Farmers Market (Photo credit: tamaradulva)
I’ve hesitated writing this for a while, because you know I try to be positive, try to bring something of value here to Buddy Breathing, yet at the same time, anyone who has read BB for a while knows I also am equally committed to being authentic. So, to write a rant (even though Rick Mercer, the rant master, says that ranting is very Canadian and good for you!!) might be considered to be negative, or whiny, or complaining, or blogging with the purposes of dumping on poor folk who didn’t even have a chance to prepare for the mess… uhu. I’ve considered the Biblical truth around Peter’s vision;
Acts 10: 9-16 Peter’s Vision
9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!”Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
Now I recognize the need to look at the whole context of these verses, and I readily admit I need to do more in-depth study, but I just wonder, how do these verses relate to my concerns about food? And, I have to admit after considering all of the above, I am proceeding with my premeditated rant and I’m not sorry about it (yet).
This rant started with a facebook posting last week, “What’s eating me?” and progressed through a day of considerations around food, local food, available food, what’s good food, what’s not good food, what should we really be eating, who says, who is telling the truth, why, why, why, why not, and arrived full circle back here to the “What’s eating me?” because at the end of the day I’m really just pissed off at a situation that I’m not entirely certain I can do anything about. Food. What we are eating that eats me up at the same time.
39/365: Giant Can of Nutritional Yeast 2/8/2010 (Photo credit: @heylovedc)
So, to the grocery store I go, armed with idealism and simplistic goals of buying some food that I can prepare for my family that will be good for us. Sounds like a great place to start, doesn’t it? I mean who doesn’t want to eat healthfully, other than the times we give in to the cravings for salt or sugar or both, most of us want to put things into our bodies that will not only fuel the machine, but will taste good and not poison us in the process.
I’m not highly read up on all the facts around food… I readily admit this. I do need to investigate more, but part of me is wary of academic studies that glorify a food one year and vilify it the next. I’ve watched Food Inc, cheered for Jamie Oliver as he takes healthy eating to America, read the occasional article on the superfoods . My roots are rural, so maybe that’s why I’ve passionately believed in the benefits of whole foods over processed foods for many years. I’ve long stopped haunting the drive thru windows of fast food establishments, unless you include a Starbucks drip coffee from time to time.
I stay home, buy food, cook it, try new recipies, pay attention to what I buy, read the labels. Our family values include the benefit of eating family dinners at the same table for as many days a week as our schedules allow. That’s pretty often. I’ve let go of white bread, cut down on carb intake, increased my intake of water over drinking empty calories, gone from 2% to 1% milk after a rigorous taste testing exercise. I am a well intentioned “locavore”… meaning I believe in the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown produce in season. But as you know, I’m Canadian, half of our food needs fall in times when growing doesn’t happen locally
THE RANT PART…
I headed to the local Superstore grocery store with my ideals and biases, and came away crushed like a can of imported roma tomatoes. The new electronic shelf labels set me off… I don’t like them, they are small, they are confusing, they flash, they remind me I need to wear reading glasses. The fish… even those caught here in North American waters, were all farmed. Any frozen fish… was imported from waters I know even from my most basic understanding of geography to be sketchy and not to be trusted. Veggies and fruits, well, it appears the local packing house and the local S(t)uporstore are un-aquainted. Apples, pears, berries… from south of the border. Tomatoes… gassed and from further afield. So I headed to the rice section, looking for healthy non-white rice options… and then I remembered a news headline on one of the days when I was listening to the news, that announced a broad concern around tainted rice from Asia… hmmm… does that include India, I wondered? Definitely includes China and so after much searching I located a bag of rice, a brown paper bag that looked somewhat more grass roots to me, and it was from California. I’m happy to announce that California Brown Rice is quite nutty in flavour and I will buy it again. Meat… well, I’m still not over the E-Coli scare and a recent study suggesting red meat is guilty of producing all sorts of dietary ills. Dairy… butter, never margarine… don’t ask me why… it’s just a gut sense I have that naturally occurring rather than chemically produced oils are better for me. Eggs… consider cholesterol… milk… consider lactose intolerance of 2/3 of our family members and the cost of lactose free milk vs. regular milk… And on and on it went, from one food group to another to another, reading labels, considering issues, considering rumours of issues, and then on to the dietary restrictions around issues, and finally to the ORGANIC SECTION, in search of anything that might look better, feel safer, add some interest to a narrow selection of food that might or might not feed the family. In that section is where I really lost my mind I guess… in the NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT SECTION to be more precise. Because, in that section, on a bottle of Omega 3 vitamins, was where I read this in teeny tiny print… I don’t know… maybe 3 point text…
Contains acceptable levels of arsenic!!!!!!!
So, is that related to mercury in fish… I mean Omega 3 is fish oil, right? Oh my goodness!!!
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I didn’t know whether to stay or run or say something to someone, anyone who might care to know that our vitamins contain arsenic and that’s completely acceptable to whomever decides the acceptability of these things. And I guess I’m still in shock that my grocery trip clearly was such a personal indicator that our food industry is in a bad state. I really truly think it is. What do you think?
And, if things are as bad as they appear to be, why aren’t we jumping up and down and screaming loudly enough to change something about it?
My husband, whom I dearly love, says it’s a matter of cost. It’s a matter of cost that it’s cheaper for someone to buy a Big Mac than it is to buy a healthy lunch of fruit and veggies. It’s a matter of cost that we have a 2 tier system of food in this country, that it costs more to buy righteous, healthy, Organic foodthan less healthy alternates. It’s a matter of cost… yes. Costing us our quality of life when we consider the root cause of disease and the impact on us and on our health care system. Yes, in the end, it is costing us our very lives. Well, isn’t it?
organic produce section at Berkeley Bowl (Photo credit: Librarian In Black)
I have no answers… so I guess that doesn’t make me part of the solution… yes, I know, I know. I DON’T WANT TO BE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Still I’m just little old me… one voice in a million crying out in the wilderness, “What are we eating?” What can we eat that is good for us? Can I afford to not eat good food? Am I slowly poisoning my family? Am I becoming obsessed over what the good Lord has deemed “clean” and taking my focus from things that are of much bigger consequence than what I put into my mouth?
So many questions… so much to learn… what to do, what to do???