If it’s true that we are what we eat—and I believe it is—we are in BIG trouble.
This topic came to mind as I chatted with the mother of a pair of young girls playing on the beach during the “Not-So-Super Moon” in March (see the “Let There Be Light” post of March 20th). I remarked how sweet-natured the elder daughter, a tall and shapely young woman, must be to play with her eight-year-old sister. “Hmmph,” the mom snorted. “She may look 16, but she’s only 11.”
Because my somewhat eclectic regular reading list includes various Frankenfoods alerts, I’m aware that growth hormones routinely fed to livestock destined for our tables are accumulating in our children. Puberty kicks in significantly earlier now than a decade ago, a disturbing development that some scientists believe may have a negative impact on lifespan. Based on what he sees in his practice, Tim’s cardiologist believes the current machine-dependent generation will die at earlier ages than their parents. Furthermore, the level of pesticides deemed “safe” when measured in human fat cells is creeping ever upward. Don’t know about you, but I find these observations worrying, especially when I think about my kids, and their kids.
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Wait, there’s more! The busy regulators at Agriculture also gave the green light to corn and alfalfa genetically engineered specifically for ethanol manufacture, despite the fact of likely cross-pollination because of inadequate prescribed buffer zones. So what? So a nearby field of sweet corn would be rendered unfit for human consumption if contaminated by wind-blown pollen from these wonders of modern science.
Then there’re the ancillary issues of fossil fuel-use in transporting produce bred to travel thousands of miles from farm to table, and water-table depletion and degradation in developing countries that keep you supplied with asparagus all winter long.
Well, what can you do? you query. You gotta eat.
Easier said than done, of course, but it helps if you make an effort to educate yourself before you stick stuff in your mouth. Honest to Pete, I’m not being holier-than-thou here. I’m as ruled by taste buds and capricious appetites as anyone. A mass of contradictions, I read labels, but throw those Cashew Sandies in the cart anyway because I love Cashew Sandies with my fair trade, sustainably farmed green tea sweetened with Splenda.
Fortunately, some organizations exist specifically to help you make sounder food choices, and to tell you where you can get them.
|Local Harvest's logo|
Since finding food grown within a hundred miles of your home (kind of the working definition of “local”) can be problematic, next on the list for wannabe locavores: Local Harvest. This site directs you to family farms, farmers markets, co-ops, grocery stores and restaurants in your area that sell and/or use primarily sustainably produced, in-season, local vegetables and fruit; humanely raised, grass-fed meats; chemical-free dairy; and health-and-beauty products. It also pinpoints Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in your vicinity, where members get a percentage of the harvest all season in exchange for money or labor. For example, $250 buys members a half-bushel basket of produce for each of ten weeks, May to July, from the Jones Family Farm CSA in Burgaw, NC.
Americans seem mired in an endless paradoxical quest for convenience, speed, and the cheapest prices. Michael Pollan says that, in Western diets, “food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion—most of what we’re consuming today is no longer the product of nature but of food science.” Slow Food and the locavore movement strive to focus attention on mindful, as opposed to mindless, eating. As we grow fatter and fatter and become less and less healthy, maybe it’s time to join them.
|Go look for Leo between now|
and next Monday
Hope I’ve given you some food for thought (haha) on things both terrestrial and celestial. Thanks for dropping by.