Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Empty Cart

Suffice it to say that it has been a while since my last post. Quite a lot has happened in the meantime. We can get into that later.

I watched Food Inc yesterday afternoon and now I’m bewildered. See, I went to Wal Mart to make groceries this evening and I came away with an almost empty cart. There are two reasons for this. First, it was 7:30 P.M. on a Sunday and the whole store had been picked over almost as if a hurricane had entered the gulf, and secondly I kept thinking about the food I was about to put into the cart, deciding not to purchase it because I wasn’t sure of its’ origin or had second thoughts about the trip it took to get to my store. It was if I’d been shell shocked. What didn’t make sense is that I knew most of this already. I’d already seen Joel Salatin of PolyFace Farms on CSpan once and watched the video in this link (It is long, but well worth it. Honest). I’ve heard about how Monsanto owns Round-Up ready seed and doesn’t let farmers keep it, I knew that a lot of the fruit and veg that are on the shelves of our markets are picked way before they are ripe, are artificially ripened, and coated in wax to preserve them. I had no idea how dangerous meat packing jobs are. I had no idea how horrid the conditions chickens are raised in. I had no idea how the fast food industry caused fundamental changes in the way food gets from farm to market and to our plates.

It is a shame that we allow our food to be raised in such intolerable and inhumane conditions. It is a shame that we condone similar treatment of those who get our food off the vine and carcass. We must do better. We must find ways to make good honest and healthy food available to everyone. Healthy food must be as easy and inexpensive as the processed crap we shove down our gullets because we don’t have the time or money to prepare a proper meal.

It seems that Jamie Oliver has a point. It seems that the First Lady also has a point. Children in urban settings are far more likely to eat processed foods and less likely to be able to identify an eggplant on sight. How sad is that? We must do better.

4 comments: the Sweet Life said...


You looking to get a little deeper in your thought "The Art of the Commonplace...the Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry"...It will really send you for a loop and reinforce what you just saw on Food. Inc. Local, Local, Local is the key...and we've been assualted by messaging for so long we buy living the rat race.

Frank said...

Yeah, it is pretty grim

Amy Alexander said...

I completely agree! Going to Wal-mart is rather excruciating. I have to suppress so much to do it. The price tag alone can't be enough.

Yesterday, I picked up a copy of "Omnivore's Dilemma" and browsed it. In the first chapter, he explains that humans are omnivores, so we don't care where our food comes from. We're actually missing that built in food awareness gene that other animals have. As a result, we'll eat just about anything and rely on cerebral, traditional, emotional cues instead of what is best for us.

Anyway, great post, I ramble, and here's my piece on trying to get away from big box stores.

Josh said...

Rob, thanks for the suggestion. I'll have to take a look.

Amy, you too. Thanks for the suggestion. I totally agree- Target is the nicer of the two, but neither is preferable. I've learned that most of the fruit and vegetable stands in BR are operated by produce distributors and while they do carry more local and specialty foods than the Big Box stores, the produce may not necessarily be more local.

I also remember hearing about how in Europe people tend to shop for their immediate grocery needs, not for the whole week or even month as we do. That means it is easier to shop for local and fresh foods because they won't spoil or take up freezer space. This also means that foods can be "riper". You can buy a banana with a few spots or an apple that smells really good and not worry about spoilage. Of course, the problem there is that we don't organize our time around diner they way other cultures do. There again- that is where Jamie Oliver has a point- cook and eat together as a family, eat wholesome food, and be healthier mentally and physically. If only there was more time in the day to do this. Where is Alice to do my marketing, and Sam The Butcher for my meats when I need them?