Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food, Angst.

A few months ago I finally got around to watching the "Food, Inc." documentary. I have to hand it to the makers of this movie. It scared the pants off me. And then it ticked me off. And then I was scared again. And then ticked. I think you can see where this is going.

In case you haven't subjected yourself to this particular brand of mental/emotional torture, let me enlighten you. It is basically a discussion of the mainstream food industry in America, its' corruption and ultimately the danger to we, the consumers. Sounds relaxing, huh?

Well, not being one to only know a little about a subject (some might call it obsessive...) I promptly checked out two of Michael Pollan's books from the library. He's one of the fellows behind this movie. To say I read these books would be a slight overstatement. Skimmed is more like it. Skimmed and cursed. One of his books discusses the fact that the "organic" industry has now become more mainstream and in so doing has lost its' soul. More or less. Did I mention that I'm ticked?

Here's why I'm all wadded up over this. When you're just a plain, little ol' mom trying to raise healthy children you take for granted that you can trust certain things. Well, guess what? You can't. Not only does the mainstream media drive home the point that children today are OBESE and UNHEALTHY and this will be the first generation to DIE YOUNGER THAN THEIR PARENTS, but those on the other side are constantly driving their left-wing agenda as well. Seriously, can we leave politics out of this? I'm sure Michael Pollan is a swell guy, but I think he is just as guilty as the big food corporations. GASP! How could I say such a thing??? Well, because, he uses scare tactics to drive his agenda. Is he right about some things? Yes, very important things. But, I think he compromises his integrity by tying politics to his "cause". Not to mention how unrealistic his advice is for most normal people. And by normal I mean folks who don't make a bajillion dollars writing scary books or making scary movies. Real people who need to use coupons (or food stamps) to buy groceries. Real people who don't own goats/chickens/cows or have neighbors who do. Moms who can barely keep up with normal household chores and cannot even grow cucumbers in a container on the deck, much less feed her family with organically grown vegetables (from homemade compost, of course.)

And let's not even discuss the government's role in all this disgusting scandal. Republicans and Democrats have made super shady decisions in this area. Luckily, I lost my shine towards the government a long time ago. Nothing they choose to do or ignore really surprises me at this point. Bitter much??

So. What have I done? After talking myself down from the ledge (Again. Remember I'm the queen of self pep-talks) I decided to implement my changes slowly. I had to decide what matters most to me and make baby steps to reach my food goals. And yes, I'm aware this all points toward some sort of psychosis. I never promised sanity around here people! And, because I pretend you care, I'll share with you what I've decided.

First, it matters to me the environment animals are in when they become my food (or give my food in the case of dairy cows). Look, at the risk of sounding awful, it's not so much that I *care* about the animals. I'm not a bleeding heart about animals and I think it's perfectly appropriate to eat them and their products. But the things these animals are enduring are not NATURAL. It isn't how God intended at all. And the neglect is beginning to show and the ramifications are effecting real families. It takes some digging to find out about this aspect of your meal. As I mentioned, the organic market is a big corporation now. Luckily, there are lots of folks out there more ticked off than me, so there are an abundance of websites that rate companies according to several factors. Just as an FYI, the Whole Foods brand of milk (365) scores very well and is reasonably priced. And they make string cheese, too.

Second, I am working on becoming a high fructose corn syrup free zone. I watched another documentary (obsessed *cough*) called "King Corn" and this one I really loved. These two random guys made it and they are much more laid back in their message. I'll even forgive them for interviewing Michael Pollan! ANYWAY. The point is corn is everywhere. And perhaps the little ad campaign is right, that in moderation HFCS (handy abbreviation...) is ok. But, good luck with that, because it's in everything we eat almost. So, did I go through and throw out everything I have that contains HFCS? Nope. A) I'm cheap, and B) That's so wasteful. As things run out I replace it with something HFCS free. The choices are many these days. Companies are getting the message for sure.

Third, I'm buying local produce this summer and loving it. I would picket in a line that said, "Save the little farmers!" I've got just enough hippie blood in me to make the poster and have it ready!

Last, I'm tiptoeing slowly towards finding a local meat source. Grass fed beef, free range chickens, pigs who aren't fed other animals. You know. Wholesome. I have a good lead on a farm about 40 minutes from here. I've yet to make the trip, but it's on the (ever-growing) list.

There you have it. I would not call my self crunchy, but I'm maybe moving out of the soggy category. Baby steps. Oh, and I will never, ever give up Chik-Fil-A. So, if you know something...don't tell me!


Paula said...

Great post Kell. I have not watched that documentary for the fear I will have just grocery shopping. I think you have made plenty of good points. In the REAL world, where MOST of us is just not affordable. Eating all "organic" when it truly is not...ANGER!!!! The High Corn Fructose Syrup has been on my list for awhile....but you're do you ALWAYS avoid it??? Government wants change...may start with the companies and NOT the consumer.
I am also on the look out for a local "meat" farmer....the list...hope to get there some day as well..
Thanks for the "food" for thought!! LOL

Christina said...

The local organic (for over 85 years!) farm implemented a veggie box program this year, I emailed late but there was one spot left(with my brood she found space) I pay a monthly amount June to end of Sept! My box is picked the day of (aka today) and delivered within hours of being picked, the box changes weekly as to availabilty of croops, we LOVE it and has us figuring out how to use the stuff that comes in (like a load of beets) now if I could kick my diet coke addiction ( have non in the house) and the recent ice cream thing I would be fine!

eastofedenfarms said...

I not only watched Food, Inc. I own it. And is frustrates the life out of me. For a happier, more promising ending, find a copy of "FRESH", the movie. It shows more solutions. We own that one, too.

To be fair to Michael Pollan, he acknowledges that most Americans can't afford to make dramatic changes. He contends, "those of us who can, should."

Even small changes help. A dozen pastured eggs, here, a pound of grass fed beef, there, it all helps.

The Mrs. and I have been so upset that we've begun growing as many fruits and veg as possible and have expanded to raising chickens and grass fed animals on a very small scale. Our goal is to provide for ourselves, tithe, and offer the excess to the public as affordably as possible. Still more expensive that the supermarket, that's the cost of not being subsidized.

Our goal is to be the best stewards of all God's resources (including creation and finances) as possible.

Thanks for the post.


khull05 said...

Thanks Sam! I will find a copy of Fresh, and will definitely be dropping by your website.

Heather said...

Good comments, Kelly! I have avoided that documentary as well because I struggle to stay on top of the few steps we've taken to becoming more "natural" in our food choices. We try our best to be HFCS, MSG and partially-hydrogenated soybean oil free (no handy abbreviation there!), but it makes my grocery trips much longer for all the label reading. We have a friend at church who raises pasture-fed beef, but right now we can't afford to buy it - so I try not to think too hard about the meat we eat :( And never mind having the time to do all of this...
Keep taking those baby steps and doing the little things you can. Pretty soon, they'll add up to real life-style changes that will make a big difference for your family!