Food Issues

No, this isn’t going to be a post about dieting, or a big reveal about my secret eating disorder.  I could easily write a ten-posts-a-day blog about my life and food, but that doesn’t really interest me.  No, these food issues are a little different.

I listened to Nicholas Kristof (New York Times columnist) and Bob Martin (Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming) on the radio this morning talking about the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals and the possible link to the rise in drug-resistant infections in people.  It was one more in a long line of interviews and news stories about the food we buy and eat, about all the things we don’t know about that food and all the ways it could be harmful to us.

I like to eat and, like any living person, I need to eat.  I also like knowing that the food I eat isn’t chock full of drugs and additives and what-all.  Sure, I shop the organic section at Fairway.  I buy the organic meat from the butcher.  I go to the green market.  I cook most of my meals these days.  But there are still all these things going on behind the scenes in food production that I don’t know anything about, and that scares me.

Last week I learned that B___, one of the day teachers at the Ed Center, is picking up stakes at the end of this month.  He and his girlfriend are moving out to Wisconsin to live and work on an organic farm.   I will admit that, despite the fact that I have no desire to drop everything and move to Wisconsin, I am insanely jealous of this move B___ is making.  Farm work appeals to me.  It has since I was a kid.  And the idea of having that kind of control over the food I eat?  Well, that is completely attractive to me.

The summer camp I went to as a child (the one where Mildred worked) was a working farm … a farm that ran on the labor of kids, true.  In the summer, the campers handled the work, in the winter, the boarding school kids took over.  It wasn’t an enormous agri-business concern or anything like that.  We raised and grew food to put on our own dinner tables.  I loved that work (ok, I didn’t love chicken-plucking day).

When I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I was reminded of how much I had loved working in the garden at camp, how much I loved taking care of the animals, reminded of all the food that came from the garden my mother planted in a relatively small piece of our backyard when we lived upstate.  And I remembered learning about the program out on Staten Island that teaches people how to be farmers and helps them find plots of land upstate and on Long Island so they can start their own farms … and I started thinking …

No, I’m not moving to Wisconsin.  And I’m not quitting my job and enrolling in farm school.  Last year I wound up not buying into either of the CSAs that deliver near me.  Even a half share seemed like way too much food.  But this year I need to reevaluate.  Buying a half share in the CSA is a start, but there has to be more to this story.  The more I learn about food production, the more I know I have to take a more active role in making sure that as little of that manipulated product winds up in my stock pot.

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8 thoughts on “Food Issues

  1. molly

    I’m sure you read about the Obamas having a vegetable garden planted at the White House. Why has nobody ever done THAT before? (or at least not in recent history — probably way-back there was of course a vegetable garden)

  2. I didn’t hear that about the Obamas, just another reason to love them.
    As for farming, I love the fantasy about it, but the reality is hard. I spent time on two kibutizzim in Israel, one was focused on apples and the other a bit of everything.
    While I enjoyed both at first, soon I was itching to get back to an more urban area.
    That was in 1979. Now that early world is a distant memory in Israel for most of its population and for me.
    Bonnie

  3. I understand whole heartedly what you are saying. That is why I became a vegan four years ago. I’m not saying that it is right for everyone, but I can say that I look and feel so much better having changed my eating practices.

    This Sunday I saw an interesting interview on 60 Minutes. Alice Waters talks about food.
    Lesley Stahl Profiles The Outspoken, And Sometimes Controversial California Food Activist.

    Video: The Mother Of Slow Food

    http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml

  4. People think I’m crazy when I say this, but lately I’ve been considering those 19th-century communes–remember Sojourner Truth joined one in upstate NY? And there were always writers/artists trying out new forms of community in Massachusetts. Usually they starved to death, slept with each other’s spouses, and broke the plow, but wouldn’t we do better with all our 21st-century know-how? I grew up in a house that had a huge vegetable garden out back, plum/apple/cherry trees, strawberries, roses, things growing everywhere. I love Brooklyn, but I do spend a lot of time at the botanic garden..I need both the urban and the (semi-)rural worlds to feed my soul/imagination…

  5. I have considered a CSA but have heard that too many have a limited variety and people end up tossing those veggies too. I am not sure what the answer is but awareness is a great first step.

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