Food Fridays – a weapon of revolution

I have been a food worker for many years, though for a long time I didn’t know it.  One of the reasons for this was that I was just a child.  It’s not that I was very young.  It’s that I was generally trusting, focused on assimilating the rules of my workplace rather than questioning them.  Doing research inside of academia, I was sure that my goal was simply to further knowledge in plant science, unquestioning of the assumptions and goals related to “feeding the world” that were cut and pasted from one USDA grant proposal to another.  I didn’t focus on the ways that academia and business function together, the ways that the worth of a line of research is evaluated in light of the needs of a corporate system of agriculture that is busy stocking our supermarket shelves.

When g was born and I felt the weight of providing a healthy diet for a growing baby, I turned into a teenager.  I read about pink slime and BPA, antibiotics and processed sugars, atrazine, glyphosate and arsenic and I decided that NOBODY could be trusted to safely feed my child.  I began to have delusional visions of growing and preparing all of our food by myself.  Through a less than perfectly stable mentally outlook, I learned a lot about the things that are wrong with our food system.  And I dressed in black with safety pins, colored my hair purple and brewed kombucha.

About a year ago I began working with a local organic farmer. Confident in my understanding of healthy soils and biological diversity, I was ready to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  And then I started to become an adult.  I realized that it’s fine and dandy to want to do the right thing, a “thing” that is typically not difficult to understand but isn’t going to take you anywhere if you can’t also put food on your own table.  I learned about the vertiginous climb that so many fresh-faced would-be food providers are facing when they step onto the field and find that their opponent is the colossal corporate food system, an industry so large and powerful that it has decided the modern history of entire nations, including, it could be argued, my own.

Now that I’m developing wrinkles, I finally feel like I may have a decent vantage point from which to see the big picture.  The hormones have calmed but I can’t give up on all of the hopes and demands of the pimple-faced girl in the ripped anarchy t-shirt.  Now that I’m an adult I’ve thrown an apron over that shirt because I think that there is something that I can do about it all.  And that something is called dinner.

I know that it’s asking a hell of a lot of people who struggle enough just to get dinner on the table, many of whom are preoccupied with whether that dinner will actually be consumed by those who need it most, to also consider the implications of genetic technologies, toxicity profiles, carbon footprints and the treatment of agricultural workers.  Life is difficult (and costly) enough!  But if you flip that page over and recognize that the simple and obligatory decisions you make about the food you purchase can be a powerful agent for change in a thousand different ways all at once, you realize that dinner is power.

There are about a billion websites that write about the topic of food in some way.  I know this because I read about half of them on a semi-regular basis.  By joining the ranks I’m hoping to be able to use some of the time that I’ve spent obsessing about all of this over the years to help people make simple choices about what to eat.

I really do believe that small choices can have an impact.  And beyond all that idealistic nonsense, even old farts need their outlets.




3 thoughts on “Food Fridays – a weapon of revolution

  1. A revolution can take many forms, I like to think mine is quiet and steady. I think our food laws and labelling regulations are very different here in the UK, and whilst there will always be good and bad in any system from what I have read our system does seem pretty robust. I feel it is important to be mindful shoppers and eaters, but don’t try and tackle everything at once or you will feel overwhelmed. Start with one thing, say fruit and veg, get that sorted then move onto another. It is not perfect but it is better than doing nothing at all. It also means that us busy mamas can find the time to work it into our lives.

  2. I’m making sourdough today, using the method that requires you to do something every half hour or so ,and takes days, not counting the maintenance of the starter (our starter is named Bundle…) And the babies planted the seeds for the tomato seedlings today. So, while part of me knows I’m a dilettante, just playing at being able to feed myself and keep alive methods that Big Agriculture doesn’t want us to remember, part of me believes that after the apocalypse I WILL be a repository of valuable knowledge. And if I can’t manage to teach my children these values, well, at least I did my best to model them.

    My spouse doesn’t understand why certain things are important to me, like not buying flour, corn, or soy that aren’t organic. I want to give him a run down of the terrible interconnected web that is our fucked up food production system, but I don’t know how to make someone care about something they don’t care about. I guess the best I can do right now is write “organic” next to every fucking thing on the grocery list on the weeks he buys groceries.

    Anyway, one thing I take from you is that doing our best is really not nothing. I saw an Oscar Meyer ad in a magazine where they were pathetically trying to sell themselves to people like us (they noted how their pork was gluten free, for example, GOD GOD), so maybe change is coming…

  3. Pingback: The personal and political of 2016

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