In an interview with TreeHugger Joel Salatin made a couple comments that really struck home with me. I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Salatin… just read my 5 post review of his book Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal.
Just imagine if people began discovering their kitchens again, and if the average household instead of popping irradiated amalgamated prostituted reconstituted, adulterated, modified and artificially flavored extruded bar coded un-pronounceable things into the microwave, actually prepared whole foods for all-down-together family meals. It’s not normal for a culture to eat things it can’t pronounce and that it can’t make in its own kitchens. Ever try making corn syrup. Or red dye 29? If we quit feeding cows corn, and practiced mob stocking herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization, 70 percent of the world’s arable land could return to perennial prairie polycultures building soil and sequestering carbon. That would completely destroy the power of the grain cartel, the multi-national corporations, petroleum usage. If every surburban–or urban, for that matter–lot and mega-yard became an edible landscape, supermarkets would be gone. I don’t have a vendetta against these institutions, but I do think that the world we currently live in is a veritable blip, an abnormality cyst, in the continuum of human history. Chances are in the distant if not near future our food system will be more decentralized, localized, and in-home prepared than it is right now. And that looks a lot more like the food system of 1800 than the one of 2009.
Powerful stuff, no?
The industrialization of food has destroyed our food in so many ways. It has meant the addition of preservatives, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms, all of which can be harmful to our health and to the environment. Additionally, it means that there are generally only a handful of large farms growing the majority of any particular crop throughout the country. That means distribution is costly both in terms of money and resources and our options are fewer by design. It is not the same food that our grandparents ate… they more closely resemble Frankenfoods when you take a closer look.
Where does your food comes from and how do you make an educated buying decision?
#1 Check your food’s mileage. Many foods come from half way around the world to land on your kitchen table. That means that many times they are harvested early, robbing you of valuable nutrients. To make them appear ripe they are sometimes sprayed with chemicals as well. To make that trip to your dinner plate they are filled with preservatives and pesticides to maximize productivity and enhance longevity. Always find out where a food comes from. It the label will usually say, “Grown and raised in Iowa” or “California oranges”, or “Farm raised in Thailand” and so on.
Buying food that comes from just down the street, or at least within your home state, accomplishes two things. It helps to ensure you’re not receiving nutrient-poor foods or foods heavily loaded with preservatives and pesticides. It also reduces the carbon footprint and helps the environment.
#2 Buy according to what is in season. Buying strawberries in December is definitely going to cost you more in terms of carbon footprint and money than buying them in July. Why not freeze those strawberries from July so that you have plenty to eat in December?
#3 Buy fruits and vegetables locally. Buy your fruits and vegetables from local organic farmers who can charge much less for their produce because they don’t have to pay for distribution. Additionally, you’re helping to sustain your local economy and you’re ensuring that thousands of gallons in fuel are not required to get the produce from the farm to your table.
Joining a CSA (community sustained agriculture) program or shopping at your local farmer’s market is also a great way to buy foods which are both healthy for you and the environment; CSAs are generally organic farms and do not pour pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and fungicides into the earth.
#4 Try going a few fruits and veggies on your own. Whether you live in a small space or you have acres of land, you can grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables. This not only provides immense satisfaction, it saves you money and is good for the sustainability of our planet.
#5 Finally, whenever possible, buy organic. Organic farmers treat your food and the planet with respect. Unlike industrialized farms, they do not use chemical pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers. They use sustainable practices to keep you and our planet healthy. And if they aren;t certified organic so what? Get to know your farmers and see how the food is grown. Often times small farmers just don’t have the resources to get certified but their products may still be organic.
Knowing where your food comes from is important for the planet, but it’s also important for your own health and the health of your family.