It is amazing how little Americans think about their food. I should know, because I’ve lived with food blinders on for several decades. The movie “Food, Inc.” has changed everything about the way food is purchased and consumed in my household. I wasn’t completely ignorant, nor was my family. When I was a child my mother went on a health foods kick. We signed up at a local co-op and began eating ‘natural’ foods back in the 1970s. Organic wasn’t the buzzword back then that it is today. I have eaten my share of health foods. I remember one night as a young child, my mother served up groats with cheese and a side of boiled kale. Yes, there was a lot of yelling that night and us kids were on the receiving end of it because we had a really tough time choking down that gruel. So, how did I wind up wearing food blinders if I was raised on health foods? It was a trend back then, just as Woody Allen depicts in “Annie Hall” when Alvy Singer follows Annie to Los Angeles and he ends up ordering alfalfa sprouts and a plate of mashed yeast. Attitudes changed and so did my family’s love for food as we ventured into the territory of haute cuisine.
Living in southern California opened up a whole new world of restaurants influenced by the great European, Asian and Latin cultures flooding the area. The wine country to the north bolstered the growing affection for fine foods. Imported meats, vegetables and products from other countries were rapidly consumed without considering the impact it had on the natural resources of our planet, let alone the local food growers and companies competing for a share of the market. It just tasted good. Without getting far out political on the entire subject, we have to admit that there are some really bad farming practices taking place in our country right now and it is serving as a model for other countries and threatening to forever alter the quality of our food sources, especially our vegetables and strains of corn, wheat, oil and soy seed.
Everybody has an organic product to sell you, but is it local? Living in the same state your food is grown in certainly makes it easier to find out if it’s worth putting on your table. That’s the key to not only eating better food, but living sustainably. It’s a need to reverse the damage done by corporate farming which relies heavily on fossil fuels, pesticides and genetically modified seed. The junk that’s engineered to survive pesticide blasts from crop-dusting aircraft. Large retailers like Costco should be commended for listening to their customers and placing more organic products on its shelves, but the company needs to do more in sourcing those products more locally. Why? Because it takes a lot of fuel to truck those products into Oregon. Sourcing locally also sends a message to companies like Monsanto that their products are undesirable and even dangerous.
The more companies like Monsanto release their GMO’s into our environment, the more they’ll cross-pollinate with native or heirloom strains nearby, destroying them forever. It’s not just here in the states, the company is doing this around the world not only to claim corporate ownership of its trademarked seed strains, but to lock poorer farmers in developing countries into their modern form of slavery. Companies need to be reminded that we as consumers have the power to shape the market place. We make the choices and those choices should be safe and sustainable. Unfortunately, it won’t stop companies from muddling the message. Here’s how Monsanto describes itself from its own webpage:
Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more. We help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture’s impact on our environment.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, especially if you read the science behind their products and how much they’re impacting the environment. I mean, come on, does an “Acceleron” soy bean seed sound like something you’d want to eat? Here’s a link to the Monsanto webpage explaining how farmers are getting great yield from Monsanto seed and yes, you will see the name of a familiar pesticide used in conjunction with all the trademarked seed Monsanto produces. Do you really want to be putting “Round-Up” in your mouth or feed it to your children?
There are plenty of resources available on the internet to anyone who feels passionately about eating safe foods that are grown locally in their state by responsible farmers. Investigate what’s going on in farming and determine for yourself if you can trust the quality of corporate farming to that of local, organic farming. With the steady rise in cancer and other disease rates in this country, it certainly appears to be food for thought. The best thing to take to heart, is that many restaurants in the Portland metro area are realizing how important these concerns are and are now offering menus that are organic, local and sustainable. The truth is out there. Seek it and you shall have peace of mind.