Even if you’ve never wanted to become a hard core vegan or vegetarian, hopefully you want to educate yourself about how the food you do eat ends up on your plate. I watched Temple Grandin, an HBO special last night and then found Food Inc today on my Netflix ready LG system. Now I’m wondering about my health, the treatment of animals we end up call “dinner” and the social and psychological aspects of the family dinner. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to start professing some grand epiphany or start lecturing to meat eaters; that would just be plain hypocritical as I sit here eating my burger and fries. What I want to do, though, is provoke you to think about how you eat, where you eat, how you shop and maybe how you can change even just a little bit so you can say you’re conscious of what happens before you sit down to eat.
In your busy life do you find yourself sacrificing quality for speed? You go to the drive-thru at your favorite fast food joint. You may pop in the grocery store on your way home to pick up the ready to eat roasted chicken and microwave mashed potatoes. It does sound delicious, right? But what is really the cost of that convenience? If I make the decision to be a more earth and family conscious consumer, it may ultimately cost more in my wallet. For some, that is achievable but for most, sadly it is not. Even the poorest family may opt to pick up fast food for their family because it’s cheaper than produce and because they have one care between three adults that are up by 4am to drive to work and they don’t have time to cook. So how are they to feed their families, hold a steady job and make healthy food choices so they can avoid medicals bills from Diabetes and other food related illness.
The food industry leaders have tried to create systems and processes to prove they can sustain the food demand and keep our foods safe. However, studies continue to raise concerns such as antibiotics given to livestock, the use of corn to feed livestock, pesticides in crops and chemical run offs due to flooding. Many farmers working with major distributors aren’t in control of their crops and they are often kept under the corporate thumb to maintain ever changing standards, driving them further into debt. They often disagree with these standards but chose to comply to keep their farms and feed their own families. If they don’t comply, what becomes of our farms and farmers? There are videos across the media proving that the dollar is more often than not that is driving decisions that should also have moral considerations.
Temple Grandin is a professor at Colorado State University and a professional designer of humane livestock facilities. She is a leading expert on the humane treatment of livestock handling. Grandin has said, “I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”
Doesn’t that sound like such a simple code to live by? You can chose to not eat meat in protest. You can chose to not eat any animal products for whatever reason you feel most passionate about but you cannot simply abstain and then avoid the issue because you are no longer part of the cycle anymore. You may have thought meals were just about eating when you’re hungry but I hope you can see it’s more than that. It’s about decency, respect and gratitude. They saying goes “it takes a village” but I believe that it really starts with one person. I want to be one of those “one person”s that start making a difference in my way of living and pass it forward to my village. How about you?
Here are some simple ideas that appear in Food Inc. Start practicing the ones that you can and pass it along!
You can vote to change this system. Three times a day.
Buy from companies that treat workers, animals, and the environment with respect.
When you go to the supermarket, choose foods that are in season. Buy foods that are organic. Know what’s in your food. Read labels. Know what you buy.
The average meal travels 1500 miles from the farm to the supermarket.
Buy foods that are grown locally.
Shop at farmers’ markets.
Plant a garden. Even a small one!
Cook a meal with your family and eat together.
Everyone has a right to healthy food.
Make sure your farmers’ market takes food stamps.
Ask your school board to provide healthy school lunches.
The FDA and USDA are supposed to protect you and your family.
Tell Congress to enforce food safety standards and re-introduce Kevin’s Law.
If you say grace, ask for food that will keep us, and the planet healthy.