An education is a dangerous thing to have. With knowledge comes power, and with power comes obligation and the need for a wholelotta wisdom.
It all began when I watched Food, Inc., a modern-day equivalent of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Thanks to filmmaker Robert Kenner, my eyes were opened to the truth behind the industrializaton of food - how big business has sacrificed food quality increase profits. The cow and the chicken are no longer complex creatures belonging to an ecosystem but commodities to be processed, genetically modified organisms are beginning to dominate our landscapes, and single-crop "farms" are depleting the soil of vital nutrients leading to an increase in disease and need for more pesticides and antibiotics. Ignorance is bliss; after seeing the film I felt like crawling into an imaginary void and curling into the fetal position - my understanding of food and American culture was deconstructed before my very eyes. (Paradigm shift anyone?)
Since my curiosity was piqued, I felt obligated to take a stand, for my health and the health of my community. Encouraged by the movie to vote with my dollar, I chose to only buy organic for 40 days. In doing so, I had to give up the myriad of choices offered to me by my local grocery store and get creative with my cooking. Saying no to tomatoes since they weren't in season was difficult, but it also made me look forward to summer when they would be available in the organic section.
During these 40 days I also began reading. What do all of the different organic certifications mean? What is a grass-fed cow? What is the difference between a free-range chicken and an organic chicken? I read In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. I've contemplated joining a CSA. I've bought more food from my local farmer's market. I'm currently reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson as a continuation of my environmental education.
The bottom line is that it's all about stewardship. It's incredibly disheartening how our fast-paced Western lifestyle has disconnected us from the very earth we live on. We favor accomplishing tasks and have forgotten that the greatest joys are found in the process of getting from point A to point B. And this lifestyle has permeated the very core of our culture - our eating habits - as evidenced by the fact that we no longer know where our food comes from, how it's made, or quite frankly what is in it. Eating is a means to an end instead of a daily time to stop, gather together and share.
It's all I can do to keep my feet planted here in LA, where a grass-fed dairy seems nonexistent and where fast-paced is the norm. I daydream about my little utopia; I live in a small community where each of us is interdependent upon the other for the necessities in life, neighbors share meals, and nobody worries about reading food labels because they simply don't exist.