Friday, June 19, 2009

Food, Inc.

There is a new documentary out this summer called “Food, Inc.” I don’t really want to see it, but felt a little guilty about that decision until Pajiba - my most favorite movie review site - gave me an out by saying “Food, Inc. is that warm smug self-satisfaction that comes with having a Trader Joe’s reuseable bag full of five dollar tomatoes.” And perhaps a blog about sustainable food?

So, I haven’t seen this movie, though we may Netflix it. I’ve only watched the preview and read some reviews. I’m going to talk about it anyway…

The movie seems to take a dash of food-related ideas that have been known for years, and combines with beautiful/shocking/inspiring visuals to goad people into actions they didn’t take when they initially learned the ideas without the beautiful/shocking/inspiring visuals. Maybe this works? But my cynical self seems to think it won’t do much beyond giving the hipster crowd fun new things to talk about over organic wine and stinky cheese. (Which, BTW, is a great activity, but perhaps detracts from useful action on these issues.)

Shocking thing you already know #1: Corn is subsidized by Uncle Sam (thanks for paying taxes!) and is in everything. Are there people who are not yet aware of high-fructose corn syrup?

Shocking thing you already know #2
: Fast food/slaughterhouses are assembly lines and seriously, seriously gross. The inclusion of footage from slaughterhouses is one of the main reasons I, myself, have no desire to see this movie. This is for many reasons (including the fact that I sat through K-Pax) but mostly because I have slaughtered my own chickens and made the commitment to only purchase other meat from small or local family farms. We have found this to be the absolute easiest modification to our food purchasing habits. I will admit that I don’t pay as much attention to meat when I am eating out. We still occasionally eat at Olive Garden and I’ll bet their chicken is likely gross. And what are the possibilities that the cashier at Five Guys knows what their beef was fed? I think I’ll have to work on this…

Shocking thing you already know #3: Big Agribusiness is in it for the money. Disclosure: Big Agribusiness pays for my house. The film spends a lot of time talking about Monsanto owning patents on the “biology inside” the GM crops it produces which is an argument that has been a talking point of anti-GM lobby for years.

I also take serious issue with the idea that you can’t eat well inexpensively. Bill and I had a grocery budget of $30/week when he was a grad student. We were able to eat plenty of fine food without resorting to BK and Taco Bell.

There is something that seems to be absent from the reviews and previews that I’ve seen – the idea that we could not sustain 6-7 billion people on this planet without industrial agriculture. I wonder if the movie includes any consideration of the things we enjoy in life that are made possible specifically because we designate a small number of people to produce lots of cheap food for the rest of us. I would hypothesize that a well considered list would include such things as the women being able to “work outside the home,” children going to school for 9 months a year, a lack of serfdom and movie theaters for independent documentaries.

So, this movie isn’t so much for me. And I’m not entirely sure what my beef with it is…perhaps I’m just annoyed that it throws a glaring spotlight on the idea that people have been eating under this system for so long and not paying attention.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Harvest

This blurry picture represents a transition of our garden from "place to get snack" to a productive source of food for a time that is not now. 

The radishes will be eaten this week, for sure. I was thinking of getting a brownie from Starbucks to compliment my lunch tomorrow, but instead, I'll have some radishes.

The peas (sugar and snow) have been put in the freezer to be used in stir fry and other dishes. I am not really a fan of cooked veggies, personally, but I believe that being a responsible eater means making a few sacrafices. It is dandy to live in a time when I can get a "3,000 mile" Ceasar salad every day of the week, but if I want to live in what I consider a more environmentally responsible and self-sufficent manner, I'm going to have to eat some damn cooked peas.   

Beans, lettuce and oats are on track to be the next harvest. 
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homegrown snacks

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