I’ve been thinking a lot about food. More than normal, and not just the normal fantasizing about food because I’m always starving, because I’m producing milk for the ever-feeding-hungriest-baby-ever who nurses every 2 hours. I’ve noted that, for me and for many people I know … food has become problematic. And I want to help reverse this. The American diet has undergone a lot of changes, most of which aren’t good.
So, let’s begin with the basics. What do you eat? Are you a vegan, an omnivore? Something in between? Do you pay attention to the food you buy, or are you just blissfully sailing through the aisles at your local grocery store, unconsciously voting for the status quo? Do you snicker at the hippies buying the organic food? Where are you on the food awareness spectrum?
I ask because I’m looking for fellow agents of change. There’s a food revolution happening quietly. The Western diet is under fire. Some of the food we* eat is killing us or, at the least, making us less healthy while at the same time, bankrupting the American farmer and making a very few people rich. If your response to this is “Well, we DO have a free market in this country” then just move along and read someone else’s blog. Thanks! *waves*
Every time you purchase a product in the supermarket store to feed yourself or your family, you are voting. You are telling the producers of our food just what you want to be eating. And those food producers are more than happy to comply. Not because they’re good chaps, but because that’s just good business. The problem is that the business model for the American food production industry is broken.
The script that big multi-million dollar food producers are following says, in effect, “Make what people want. Make it cheaply. Continue to make it as cheaply as possible in order to get even bigger profits.” Our food has become industrialized, produced in factories, with little attention to quality, and mass marketed to you via commercialization and lies. Worst of all, we can’t even turn to the FDA as the beacon of truth about the safety of our food because it’s a puppet farm infiltrated by special interest groups and lobbyists. When you actually follow the dollar, it goes into the pockets of a small handful of corporations who control a vast majority of what we* eat.
So, what do you do about it? If any of this is at all news to you, the first step is to get informed. Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. Find out what’s in your food and who profits. Turn off your TV and stop the marketing message from entering your house. Make up your own mind about how you want to eat, and stop being influenced by commercials and ads.
The next step is to start voting. Buy from companies that have a different business plan. Read ingredients and stop buying food that has questionable content. Consider buying a meat share from a local farmer. Look into community supported agriculture. Go here to find a participating farm near you. Get involved in farms and food companies that promote sustainable agriculture practices.
Try to find alternate resources for the foods you eat. Grow tomatoes on your back porch. Start a garden. Go to the Farmer’s Market. The prices will be higher, because they reflect the care and attention it takes real farmers to produce real food that really FEEDS you, food grown without chemicals and toxins. Beef fed in pastures instead of being fed indigestible food in disgusting living conditions. Don’t be the guy sucking down the $5 latte, complaining about the cost of a dozen eggs from free range chickens. Think about how you are spending your money.
Start reading articles from sources that aren’t being paid by the industry. Check out writers like Leah Bloom, the sustainable food examiner at the Boston Examiner, for things you can do on a small scale to make big changes in your eating habits. Read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food for eye-opening treatises on the food industry in America. For more info on sustainability, pick up a copy of Living Green: A Practical Guide to Simple Sustainablity by Greg Horn. I don’t agree with everything Horn says about how to live “green”, but he gives some good basic information. Watch Supersize Me or Food Inc for more motivation. Finally, join the revolution and make some noise about it.
I like the way Pollan sums up how to eat. He writes in In Defense of Food that we should “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”Â To really solve the problem of food, we need to change from being a country of soda-swilling, fast-food horking, indifferent consumers of processed foods, and start thinking of how our food is produced, making sure it is worthy for our bodies, and using our collective power to effect change. Your dollars will tell the food producers what you want. The message you send will be clear: I want to eat food that is healthy and tastes good, produced with respect for the farmer. There is an ethics to food production that has been lost. And it’s time to find it again.
I have smart readers. You know that when Velma or Daphne removes the mask from the bad guy/gal in every episode of Scooby Doo, the villain always says that he/she would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling/pesky/ kids. Stop letting them get away with it!