Americans, they say, have no connection to their food anymore. We go to the store, we buy it, and most of the time its processed crap that we don’t even know whats in it (mostly petroleum products, in case you’re wondering). We don’t stop to think about where it comes from and everything that goes into producing it. We buy it, we eat it, we throw the packaging away, and then we don’t think about it again.
There have been many a documentary that have phrased this problem and the implications of it far better than I ever will be able to. For me, it just comes down to the fact that food is at the base of our hierarchy of needs, and I think its important that we all know how to maintain our base. I read once of a family who plays a game before each meal in which they stop to recognize everyone responsible for getting their food onto their table. The checkout kid at the grocery store, the guy who stocked the shelves, the truck driver who delivered the food, the butcher who slaughtered the meat, the guy who packaged the food, the farmer who planted and harvested it, the oil miner who mined the oil that was made into fertilizers for the farm and fuel for the trucks and plastics for the packaging, the chemist who invented the plastics and fertilizers. They would even go so far as to include the mother who raised the farmer, the teacher who taught the mechanic who maintains the truck, the wife of the owner of the general store where the farmer shops, who helps keep paperwork for the store in order so that it stays up and running . I thought this was a marvelous idea, and perhaps a game I would play with my son, particularly on Thanksgiving.
Its an amazing way to measure the impact not only of what you eat, but of the value each one of us adds to society through the work that we do. Most of us don’t think of chemists and teachers as essential to putting food on our tables, but when we play this game we realize that we could very likely starve without the chemists, teachers and countless others that all fit into the vast perpetual motion machine that is a functioning society. It reminds us that if there weren’t a purpose for a skill or a job, it would probably be eliminated from society (much the way evolution breeds out useless genetic traits).
It also shows us the vast impact of our food across the world.
Like many Americans, for a long time I wanted to ignore the way I eated and the implications it had on the world. The deepest I wanted to think about food was whether or not it was going to make me fat. But now I am a mom, and like many other parts of my life, my eating habits just did not seem as acceptable after I had a child.
For one thing, I want to live long enough to see my great grand children, so I want to be as healthy as possible (and that means I need to focus on a lot more than just my weight). Furthermore, I want my son to have the privelidge of being able to live to see his great grand children, and I’m sure he’s going to want the same thing for his children, so I want to make sure he can give that same gift to his children.
More than this, I want to leave my son with a planet at least as nice as the one I was left with. Hopefully a better one. For that reason I am paying more attention to what I eat, and I am going to teach him to do the same.
Finally, food is expensive, and when you trace its sources its not hard to see why. Food prices go up with gas prices, for example, because it takes gas to ship the food. Companies aren’t swallowing the increased cost of gas, they’re passing those costs onto the consumer so that their profits don’t change. Companies always pass increased cost of production on to the consumer so that their profits don’t change. Always.
So here are my goals for eating more responsibly. I will tell you them, and then I will explain them.
1 – Eat less meat
2 – Grow as much of my own food as I can
3 – Eat at home as much as possible
4 – Buy organic when I can afford it
5 – If I can’t afford organic, buy local (naturally, if there’s a local organic food, get it!) or as close to home as you can
6 – Avoid buying foods that come from other countries
7 – Avoid food that comes in excess packaging
I will delve into each of these goals and the reasons behind them in future posts.