Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How Did You Vote?

I started my day off with some organic breakfast blend Seattle's Best coffee. I also had a piece of whole wheat toast with some Adams peanut butter on top. I've definitely gotten away from the store brand peanut butter (way too much sugar for my taste) and now buy only the fresh stuff. For lunch I had leftovers, lentil and bean chili with andouille sausage. The lentils came from the bulk food section at Whole Foods, not quite sure where the beans came from, and I know that the sausage was made locally, although I don't know if that means the pig was native or not. I also had a biscuit that I made from scratch with some Tillamook cheese. I had a small pack of fruit snacks, yes from the box, and then a couple of pieces of white chocolate (then a couple more) in the afternoon. For dinner, I used figs that came from a local farm, bacon that was also produced locally, and to spoil the gourmet theme I was going for, some macaroni salad (always a weakness) from the deli counter. 
So why the lengthy list of all the food I ate today? Well, believe it or not the food you eat says a lot about you. Obviously you can glean what my preferences are for taste and perhaps where I like to shop or how I like to cook, but there is so much more information embedded in my consumer choices that I am not even aware of. In preparation for my cooking class in a couple weeks, I've decided to read the Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I've read sections here and there in the past but never the whole book all at once so now is as good as any other time. It was on the bus this morning that I read this in the introduction, "The way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world." To me that means that we are what we eat in the sense that what we consume casts a vote, has an impact, in an ecological, political, and agricultural sense. Ok, so I just felt some weight bear down on my shoulders!  
Agriculture has been one of the most successful innovations by humankind which has afforded us many benefits in terms of food production and supply, especially in the last fifty years. But it hasn't come without costs. Industrial agriculture, or factory farms that rely heavily on energy from fossil fuels in their food production,  has reshaped the way we eat so that most of us are totally disconnected to the relationship we have to our food.  As Michael Pollen says, "Forgetting, or not knowing in the first place, is what the industrial food chain is all about, the principal reason it is so opaque, for if we could see what lies on the far side of the increasingly high walls of our industrial agriculture, we would surely change the way we eat." 
By knowing where our food comes from and how it is produced we become more engaged in the connections and relationships we have with our natural world as well as have the power to affect change that benefits both society and the environment. By knowing, we will be are aware of what we are actually voting for in terms of how we eat.  Take a look at what you've eaten already today. How well do you know your food, where it's come from, and how it's produced? How are you voting? Did you buy a local product, knowing you supported small-scale agriculture that benefits both local farmers and local economies? Did you buy imported shrimp not knowing the fish stocks where it was caught are overly depleted? Did you buy organic, knowing that the product you are consuming is healthier and keeps pollutants and fertilizers out of our streams and rivers? Did you buy grass-fed beef because you know that it's food source came from renewable energy powered by the sun rather than by fossil fuels? 
The voting polls are now officially open. Vote well!

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