As I think about our food supply and all the literature I have researched on it, I get depressed. I find it impossible to comprehend the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be led into this sci-fi world of soylent green. If we knew the things that were in our food, most of us would revolt and go on hunger strikes. For starters, what is red no. 7??? Or how about xanthum gum, what purpose does this serve? Have you ever stopped to read the labels on the items you drop in the cart, even the “organic” brands? I do, like a religion! I recently came to the conclusion that I could and wold no longer support the food industry period. DIfficult you ask? Hell yes, but as with my not owning a car in support of alternative transportation an ethical choice, indeed.
The way I figured this is simple. I garden, and boy do I garden, my kids get tired of patty pan squash really quick. I have a veggie bin delivered weekly. Oh how I sometimes let it stockpile up, then I have to create some “fabulous” dish that uses the stuff that is going to go off in a day or two. This requires a creative touch, which I have mastered, at least I think I have. I also only eat fresh food, or food that I have frozen.
A friend was over last night, and we were discussing food and food trends, she commented that she had noticed my refrigerator was nearly bare. The reality is, that I was actually in the process of cleaning out my fridge and had all my vegetables stacked up on my current veggie bin. She said that it had occurred to her when she noticed that I must only eat fresh food, because there was no real evidence to processed stuff in my fridge. Thank you for noticing, and yes it is true, for a good portion of my food that I do only eat fresh foods. I am currently perfecting my own salad dressing, although my son loves Ranch, I am trying to figure out something for him, that I find sustainable.
Back to the point, many people think that switching to organic labels is changing their lives. I hate to burst your bubble but it is not. It is just like choosing to buy a Prius, and drive twice the miles. You have only switched to something that makes you feel less guilty, you are still perpetuating the same issues. The food we consume should be about so much more than taste and sateity. It should be about community and relationships, it should be a somewhat spiritual experience. I pause here to note, I am not a person of religion or faith. I am, however a person that recognizes a complete disconnect within humanity. We need to bind together our efforts if we expect real change in our society. We can all refuse to buy disposable things, in fact we can focus past things and get onto relationships and doing as opposed to owning.
We should, however, own our food supply. Food should be something that you understand, we are the only industrial nation in the World that has a designated food pyramid. Our bodies used to know what we needed, this is what a craving is, what is needed. Today, unfortunately our cravings are about addiction, to things our bodies were never meant to consume. When I see labels, even organic ones, I cannot imagine why certain things are in the food. Things like dyes, and preservatives that I have never heard of. As a chemist, when I have to look up things in the chemistry catalog, I am no longer inclined to eat it. Food allergies are a recent epidemic. I believe that because we are so chemically dependent in our food now, our bodies are rejecting natural things. I remember as a kid, in school one or two students had allergies to peanuts, but we still got peanut butter. Today kids are having deadly reactions to things, peanut butter is all but banned in schools to avoid just being in the same room with an allergic kid. Really, when I was in school the allergic kids got hives of they swelled up and had to go to the doctor. Today kids could die. We have created so many adverse things with the food supply that it will take centuries of dedicated scientists just to study the effects of the industrial food supply.
Organic labels mean nothing anymore. When I shop, I plan ahead. I look for a local first and foremost. I want to know it has a minimal carbon output, I also want to talk to someone who knows the farmer. I try to stay away from grocery stores as much as possible. I shop in the little asian markets, which by the way have great prices on organic produce, you just have to be diligent. I love Seattle’s open market and farmer’s markets. I plan meals based on what I have at home, what is being delivered and what is in season. I also cook nearly everything from scratch. I have learned how to make several varieties of veggie burgers, I can make my own bread, I have not in many years, but am considering starting again. I buy local cheese that I am certain is not full of hormones, in actuality imported European cheese is least likely to have GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) or hormones or antibiotics. Many European countries have never adopted the food system we have.
I am no saint, I do stumble and buy processed foods on occasion. Do I feel guilty? Only in the fact that I am supporting corporations I loathe. Somedays the idea of cooking is just too overwhelming. I fail on those days, but most days I love to cook. I love the creativity it sparks within me. I wish I had my own chickens, I love fresh eggs, I know what those girls ate and I know they lived a happy life in my care. I prefer to grow my own food and know that it was grown from heirloom seeds, slowly and with love. I love the choices I have made, simply because I know they are the right choices and they are the choices that make me feel healthier.