June 1, 2013 By Anne Radcliffe
This started about “food.” But it’s about more. It’s also about life in general; the joy of learning; re-establishing a connection to the past as well as forging a sustainable way into the future; and growing into being a parent of a precocious little boy.
Many people are not ready to be unplugged, and so many of them are inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it. - Morpheus
Many of you are probably already aware that the commercial food industry has a lot of people by the short-hairs. We’re working hard and costs are going up, but not our wages. There is a constant demand for more stuff for less money, and people aren’t asking questions about how it happens. We’re too busy trying to make ends meet, or we’re being kept in the dark by the lack of media attention, or when we’re rushing through the grocery store with cranky kids hanging on our legs, we’re thinking about what can I make for dinner in 15 minutes before I collapse in utter exhaustion, and don’t notice or care that your canned peaches are products of China.
If labelling were simple, and availability and costs appeared to be more equal, choosing local and organic would be an absolute non-issue for most of the population. I believe this very strongly. Hey you: This chicken in my right hand was grown by farmer Joe a few miles away. It’s free range, raised naturally without hormones or antibiotics, and the grass and supplemental feed to the chicken is certified organic. The one on my left hand was grown in a tiny cage at a super-farm owned by some overseas interests. I’m not sure what it’s been fed cause they don’t disclose, but the company does say that they give the chickens antibiotics to prevent illness. Which one would you like?
Unfortunately, I’m not standing there in the grocery store with you to explain. Your grocery store probably doesn’t even carry farmer Joe’s products. There certainly isn’t a label on the package detailing the history of the chicken. So the only thing that you see, and millions of people just like you, is that the organic roaster chicken costs $2 more than the other chicken.
Most people don’t buy the organic chicken, rationalizing it by saying that they saved two bucks. Then, sadly, they stop for a coffee and muffin on the way to work and spend more than the little bit they saved. This is a shame, because when we let a small premium sway us away from the healthier choice, we’re voting with our dollars that we are OK with all of that big business’ company practices. Even when we’re not.
I could slap together a quick little one-page “10-simple ways to save money” blah blah blah that has a few blurbs and little content. There’s a zillion of those on the web already; they all suck. I wouldn’t do that to you guys, because that would be the height of hypocrisy to talk about the importance of quality and give you cheap imitations. Instead, I want to provide you with some genuine information so that you say to yourself, “Wow! I can do this!” and then you join me in caring about the food you put in your mouths.
So in this series, I’m asking you to open your mind. Over several articles, together we’re going to explore the ways that you can choose healthier options without taking it in the wallet. Stay tuned!