07.20.12: Making a Statement With What’s on Your Plate

Here’s a concept: Eat food, be nourished, be strong.  Repeat as needed to sustain life.

Oh, if only the simple act of eating were actually so simple.  We’re bombarded with messages about what to eat, when to eat, how to eat, what not to eat.  Then in a couple of weeks, it all changes.  There’s a new miracle Super Food that should be the cornerstone of our diets, and another Food Enemy.  No wonder everyone is confused, and so many of us are unhealthy.

Our food choices are political, whether we like it or not.  It starts with where we shop and from whom we buy.  The big national stores are convenient (I am a particular fan of the one with the bulls-eye), but what is the price of convenience?  Are their business practices suspect, and have they crowded out the neighborhood stores where, “Cheers”-like, everybody knows your name?  Where, exactly, are those apples coming from?  Regulations for labeling food sources have come a long way, but do we take the time to look at the labels, and do we know what they mean?

You make a statement with your cart and your money.  I support “mindful eating;” that is, pay attention to what you’re eating, make food choices thoughtfully, and don’t shovel grub down your throat until you’re numb and you can’t believe that entire bag of chips is gone.  I also support mindful consumption in other contexts – where and how do you spend your time, energy, and money?  Those things are precious.  Don’t throw them away.

So think these things through.  Is it better to buy organic, even if the fruit is from thousands of miles away, or is it better to buy from a local producer who may not be certified organic?  What exactly are we trying to save: the planet from fumes and greenhouse gases generated by international shipping; our local growers from being choked out by massive companies; our bodies from chemicals and weirdness; our time; or our bank account?  All of the above, some of the above, none of the above.  On any given day.

The right answer is your right answer.  I’m encouraging you to find your answer carefully and thoughtfully.  Take the time to understand your options so you can select the one that satisfies you.

Not long ago, when a whole lot of people became ill with salmonella that was traced to eggs from a particular company, the problem was about more than the people who got sick.  The issue grew into a massive debate about industrialized farming, how to regulate it, and its potential dangers.[1]  Of late, debates have raged about genetically modified salmon.  The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon with a growth hormone from a Chinook salmon and a gene from an ocean pout.  Plus an eye of newt, toe of frog, and a partridge in a pear tree.  This new fish grows faster than wild salmon.  The FDA is reviewing the whole deal, and Congress is involved.[2]  It looks like the creation will be available soon enough – an interesting opinion piece on why this, and other genetically modified foods, should be labeled ran in the San Francisco Chronicle in January:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/18/EDOL1MQHV5.DTL.

In general, I try to avoid political topics in this space.  I also avoid discussing religion and college team affiliations.[3]  This practice has kept me from getting in too much trouble!

But I bring these issues to your attention, as I’ve previously talked about food dyes, because they are important.  As my father reminded me approximately 400 jillion times as I was growing up: PAY ATTENTION.  The food that you choose for yourself and your family might be the most important decision you make, and you make it over and over, every day.  You have a right to be fully informed so that you can make decisions based on your knowledge and your values.  Whatever you choose, make sure you know what you’re choosing, and why.

For my part … we give the Wee One organic dairy and eggs.  We eat organic chicken most of the time, and other meats are organic when we can afford it.  I’d rather buy local eats at the market in my town from the farmer who raised it than organic produce from South America.  That said, if there’s not a local option, we try to go organic when we eat the skin and/or when the food has been underground.  Think strawberries and carrots – not bananas.  What if we’re in a lean patch and money is tight?  [Like all the time?]  We eat vegetables.  Organic or not, local or not.  The point is, do the best you can with what you have, when you have it (or you don’t).

And when the option is made available, I’m staying away from FrankenSalmon.

Today is Square One, my friends.  Eat up!


[1] Find the final update on the 2010 outbreak here: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/enteritidis/, and read more about the debate on industrialized farming here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20014235-10391704.html

[3] In this space, but not in my Twitter feed.  In the lawless wilds of Twitter, anything goes.

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2 Responses to 07.20.12: Making a Statement With What’s on Your Plate

  1. Lori says:

    Glad you’re back.

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