I returned to this country after 18 month abroad with a different view of food and my body truth be told. I was afforded the luxurious break from the constant din of the media telling my conscious and subconscious what to eat, what not to eat and what I should look like. What happens when we are left to create our own reality and our own eating habits without having it shoved down our throats? What happens when we are actually afforded the time to contemplate such things and to let our psyche and our bodies decide organically what feels right? What happened for me is that I ate what came naturally, I stopped obsessing about being thin, I stopped binging on sugar, I ate less animal products and the desire to cultivate my own food became palpable. Now this may have been my experience because some of these tendencies are seeded in my upbringing. I also can be certain however that some of it finally had a chance to surface due to the removal of heavy infestation of the media and commercialized food world.
This is not at all to say that the “food” companies that dominate America (and you know the ones I speak of) have not targeted the less developed nations, quite the contrary, but in these other cultures it is not splashed about in neon and crammed down your throat everywhere all the time…not as much anyway. Also helpful that we never had television and what a blessing that was…ahhh the difference of a life without the reliance on a TV for tuning in, tuning out and ultimately receiving mostly through osmosis, everything you need and mainly what you don’t.
Upon return to this great nation (and the are many great aspects), I was confused and pretty much lost on what to eat. I wanted to cook fresh, to minimize packaging, buy local and organic and I didn’t want to support the industrial meat system. Not to mention throwing in the confusion of different food fads: carbs= bad, sugar=bad, protein=good, and so on. To top it off I did not yet have a stable and substantial income to support my idealistic visions. The food that I felt like I could afford was not the stuff I was willing to eat, not at any price. When did it become elitist to eat good and whole food from the earth? How is it that in this country the lower economic class eats fast and processed food while in lower economic countries the poor are eating right out of their garden and the wealthy are dining at fast food chains? How on earth could we be so off track? How could a nation that has seemingly everything be so switched off to what really matters?
I started to read a lot about this. The more I read the more I wanted to read. The more I read the more upset and confused I became. I picked up a copy of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, an incredibly well written book where Pollan confronts the many of the same issues that I was having and delves deeply into where our food is coming from. We have access in this country to just about any foodstuff we desire yet we have become disconnected and ignorant to where it all comes from. This plethora of choices is confusing and makes it very difficult to make an informed decision on what to eat. To top this off many people are not even aware that it is even necessary to be informed and to make good choices, not only for physical health but for the health of society as well. Many people do not make the connection between the food they eat and how they feel much less our food production and the well being of the planet.Another powerful, well written, oddly entertaining and extremely important read is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
“Like many others, Foer spent his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood—facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child’s behalf—his casual questioning took on an urgency. This quest ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night, dissect the emotional ingredients of meals from his childhood, and probe some of his most primal instincts about right and wrong” ~ an excerpt from the website.
Bycatch= Sea creatures caught by “accident”.
“The average shrimptrawling operation throws 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures overboard, dead or dying, as bycatch. (Endangered species amount to much of this bycatch.) Shrimp account for only 2 percent of global seafood by weight, but shrimp trawling accounts for 33 percent of global bycatch. We tend not to think about this because we tend not to know about it. What if there were labeling on our food letting us know how many animals were killed to bring our desired animal to our plate? So, with trawled shrimp from Indonesia, for example, the label might read: 26 pounds of other sea animals were killed and tossed back into the ocean for every 1 pound of this shrimp”.
~ an excerpt from the book Eating Animals.
This is actually one of the less starling tid bits comparatively speaking. I am including simply because it spoke to me as I have always thought, even as a seemingly well informed consumer, that seafood was a pretty safe bet. I mean they get to live all happy in their natural environment, so kinda like hunting right? Um, not so much.
I am not posting this to preach, I am posting this to implore you guys to learn about where your food comes from. That way you can then make an informed decision on what to eat. I have read a lot of it, there is still much to read. I do eat shrimp every once in a while (shrimp from Canada of the US is is a good bet by the way), and shockingly I still take a bite of factory farmed meat every now and again, sometimes cause it’s just easier than saying no thank you at someone’s dinner table, sometimes cause I just cannot help myself. Sometimes I choose to turn a blind eye but I do it less and less these days and for this I am sure there are a few extra pounds of grateful shrimp not to mention endangered species still swimming around. It is still a conundrum for me and I have not figured it all out by a long shot…but I am trying.