Saturday, December 5, 2009

Looking for good, honest food

I have been a vegetarian for more years than I remember. I have always had an off and on flirtation with vegetarianism my whole life- when I was kid, I hated red meat, and would not eat hamburgers or steak too often. I would eat chicken, and bacon, but that was almost the extent of my meat consumption. When I got older, a freshman in high school, I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, and that caused me to become a vegetarian, for a short while anyway. It was hard to do on my own at that age, since I was dependent on my parent's choices most of the time, and being a vegetarian at that point in time was not as wide spread as it is now becoming. I danced around it again in college, but then finally made the leap for good when I moved out of my house and into my own place. Billy is not a vegetarian; but he does not eat meat at home very often, as I will not purchase it or make it. If he chooses to make it for himself, that is one thing, but when I make dinner it is meatless.

I knew this would be a tough decision- you get comments on it from everyone all the time- the same comments about "Well, I can't live without meat", and "Humans are supposed to eat meat," and so on. Most of the time it is from people who have very unhealthy eating habits, and won't even look at a vegetable or a piece of fruit at all, much less eat one. Which I don't understand either. But I feel good about my choice, although everyone feels they can comment on it all the time for some reason. I am not usually a preachy vegetarian either; I try to respect other people's choices, and wish they would do the same.

Eating today is not the same as eating 25 years ago; food is a major industry, and is not the image of pastoral wholesomeness as people may believe. I just watched the movie Food Inc, and while I would like to do more reading on the issues, most of the facts presented I have read before, in various places. Some of the things I learned were entirely new - such as the Monsanto Machine, that owns the patent on soybean seeds. That blew my mind - and left me feeling like there is nothing out there that I can eat anymore! Monsanto owning the patent on their genetically modified soybeans means that farmers can't save seeds from harvest to harvest; if one farmer does not use the Monsanto bean, but the neighboring farm does, and a breeze blows the Monsanto seed onto the first farmers land, he can be held responsible and prosecuted for using their seed without permission, essentially breaking their patent. 85% of the soybeans used in the US are these Monsanto beans, which are Round Up ready, meaning that they can be doused in Round Up, and they won't die. Which is disgusting as well. I had stopped drinking dairy because of the way cows are treated; now I feel I can't even drink soymilk, or consume soy products. I have been using Stonyfield Organic yogurt, which is an organic option, from grass fed cows, not corn fed. So at least I can continue eating this, which I eat every day! It astounds me that even the food we eat has become big business. I of course knew about all the growth hormones given to cows, about livestock being fed corn, when their digestive systems are not made to digest corn, forcing the farmers to give the animals chemicals to allow them to digest the corn, the inhumane treatment of all animals, the strange chickens that grow twice as large in half the time a normal chicken does- all reasons I stopped eating meat. But to learn that about soybeans has motivated me to go the extra step that I have been playing at, to commit to eating locally, seasonally, and organically.

The movie made a good point- they said that every time we shop for food, we are casting a vote. I want my vote to show that I want food grown naturally, without being chemically treated, or genetically modified. I want food I can trust. I felt sorry for the farmer, who seemed all but forced to comply with these big companies, or lose money or worse, their reputations.

I am going to seriously commit to shopping our farmers market, and making sure that I am buying locally grown food that is in season. I am going to start canning and storing food that I have canned- I want to know where my food comes from, and that it is natural, healthy, good for me, and not a science project.

You can read about the issues at To be fair, here is the link to Monsanto's rebuttal to the movie- Do some research of your own too, don't just take these sites word for it; I am going to do some more reading, but I am sure that what I will learn will support my new commitment to wholesome, natural food, grown and marketed honestly.

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