you(r values) are what you eat

I consider myself pretty well informed about food issues.  My upbringing was decidedly unconventional concerning food, though I didn’t really know it until I went to college.  My parents were rather prolific gardeners, growing most of our produce organically, though at the time I never really knew what “organic” meant.  We had our own chickens from whom we gathered our eggs.  We even briefly raised our own pig.  The first taste I ever got of a frozen vegetable was in a cafeteria, and no lie, I called my mom to ask her why the green beans there didn’t taste right.  She laughed at me, perhaps realizing she’d ruined me for life. As an adult, I try to frequent the farmer’s market, or at least buy organic produce at my grocery store.  I thought I was informed, making wise choices, doing what was right for my body and the planet.

I even read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  So I really thought I knew.

Food IncBut there is something different about SEEING it.  We saw “Food, Inc.” this weekend and afterward, as I headed off on my bike, a backpack full of reusable bags, to the grocery store, my husband asked, “What are you going to buy?”  “Oh, just some veggies and some yogurt.”  “Good, because I’m not sure I can eat any meat today.”  We’ve decided it’s time to get serious about our food choices after watching this film.  It really affected us.  And I hope you will see it too.

There are just too many reasons now for me not to do the right thing in my food choices.  Because I care about the way farmers are treated by big companies like Tyson and Purdue and Monsanto.  Because I care about the way workers are treated by big companies like Smithfield and Pilgrim’s Pride.  Because I care about the way animals are treated, all along the food chain.   Because I care about the way the land and the water are treated all along the food chain.  Because I care about the impact on world hunger.  Because I care about the way consumers are treated by large companies and the regulators who fail to protect them.  Because I care about the health of my body and my community.

Now, I have friends who are already saying things to me about how they don’t want to watch this film because they don’t want to have to change the way they eat.  This shows that they already know there is something wrong with our food system.  They just don’t want to put in a little more effort, maybe cut back on spending in other areas in order to be able to afford more ethical food, maybe spend less time on the couch and more time in the kitchen.  But we can’t sit here with our fingers in our ears singing “La La La La La, I can’t hear you” for too much longer.  Because we KNOW something has to change.

I could fill this post with bullet points and stats and facts, but I really just want to urge you to see this film.  What is the harm in seeing it?  Maybe you won’t come away from it changed, like I was.  Maybe you won’t be convinced.  Maybe you’ll think it’s biased, one of those crazy propaganda pieces like those Michael Moore films.  Maybe you can watch the whole thing and not change.  Why not give it a shot?

I’ll tell you what we have decided to do in our family as a result of this film:

  • We will no longer purchase meat that is not raised with respect.  This means pastured meat, animals that are not fed corn, animals that are not fed antibiotics and hormones.
  • This means we will no longer be buying giant bags of chicken breasts at Costco.
  • This means we will have to be willing to spend more for our meat than we currently do, though we believe that this increase in price more accurately reflects the true costs of eating meat.
  • This means that we will eat vegetarian at least two meals per week in order to afford more expensive meat.
  • This means we will have to shop at different stores in order to purchase our meat.  I have done a little research and will be checking out both Ted’s Butcher Block and Burbage’s Grocery.  If you know of other ethical meat sources in Charleston, please let me know.
  • We will shop more at the farmer’s market and will consider joining a CSA.
  • We will try to grow more of our own food.
  • We will buy organic and local when at all possible when we shop at the grocery store.  I got local squash, zucchini, and eggplant at Harris Teeter yesterday!
  • We will buy our eggs from a local farm, which are conveniently sold at a restaurant within walking distance of our house.
  • We will avoid processed food whenever possible.

Please go see this movie.  It’s beautifully shot, so I think it would be worth it to see in a theatre.  At the very least, check out the website, learn about the issues, check out the 10 Simple Tips to take part in changing our food system, and think seriously about whether or not the way you eat reflects your values.

3 Replies to “you(r values) are what you eat”

  1. Good luck! The most ethical meat I eat is that which was fished or hunted nearly locally. I realize that’s not a normal channel of food delivery for most people, but in this neck of the woods, even those of us who would not like to go shoot our dinner generally know a few people who are very happy to find us an extra if we pay to have it butchered.

    My secret dream when we have a backyard is to fight city hall and be allowed to keep 2 or 3 chickens. I’ve got my chicken coop plans all picked out at Mother Earth News (which, by the way, you need to read, as it would appeal to your ecohippy tendencies).


  2. i haven’t yet seen “food, inc.” but it’s been on the list. i’d planned to go opening weekend here but was out of town & it just hasn’t happened since then. i have read the omniore’s dilemma and animal, vegetable, miracle, as well as a few other books about food / environment & the like. for the most part, i agree with many of the points in the books, but i’m not completely on the bandwagon for now. right now we simply don’t have the time & money commitment to these things. i imagine that longterm we will consider these things.

    for now, we do often eat vegetarian meals a few times a week out of personal preference. we also have a small garden that was a “let’s just see” experiment that went well. i buy organic for some particular items when feasible but i’m not one to worry frantically over it like some.


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