MAKE EATING AN AGRICULTURAL ACT
By LYNN M. CAMERON
Wendell Berry – farmer, philosopher and author wrote 13 years ago “eating is an agricultural act that most are no longer aware is true”. He said that thinking of food as a mere agricultural product instead of an act ending the birth/death drama of the natural world leads to a passive consumption apathetic towards sustainability.
As with any other commodity, consumers’ attitude skews to become ‘buy what you want’ — or what you’ve been persuaded to want — within the limits of what you can get for the least amount of money. Commodity shopping for the bargains while lamenting the rising costs of eating makes everyone a victim of industrial agriculture and the travesty that masquerades as food.
Meanwhile, both acute and chronic diseases have risen dramatically, and addictive chemical tastes are deliberately formulated by commodity scientists to increase market share of product. Potato chips are a huge culprit in the obesity epidemic – many industrial dollars have been invested in melding the perfect addictive experience of salt and crunch which couples with the natural blast of pure sugar that happens when potatoes are flash-fried in rancid oil. The return for the industry has been dollars on the penny.
Equating food with other dollars and cents goods and services most certainly
causes crucial quality questions to be ignored.
- How fresh is it? Food loses nutrition the very moment it is harvested – many nutrients within hours of picking, too. Fruit is routinely gassed and waxed for transport.
- How pure or clean is it – how free of chemicals, hormones or antibiotics? Has it been genetically engineered? How humane were the animal living conditions? Mutagenic as well as toxic substances are regularly measured in produce treated with dangerous drugs, and organic standards are being compromised annually.
- How far away was the product grown and what did transportation add? Free-trade Central American bananas may have less carbon footprint than Valentine’s Day strawberries from irrigated fields in California and with more food dollar value.
- How much did manufacturing or packaging or advertising add to the cost? According to the National Farmers Union, 80 cents of every food dollar spent, that’s how much. A mere 15.8 cents goes to the farmer/rancher who grew/nurtured the food.
- When the commodity product has been processed or precooked or enriched or extruded how has that affected its true goodness, its nutritional content and the food value received for the dollars paid?
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