On Tuesday I watched the documentary Food, Inc. Very much like The Omnivore's Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, and a bit like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, this film examines how the modern food industry affects our health and the health of the planet. For those who haven't read all these books, this documentary is a great introduction, and for those who are already pretty "up" on this subject, it's a good summary.
For me, it was a good reminder. Oh yeah - I really wanted to do more about this. Sure, I already buy organic, at the Farmer's Market, have my CSA subscription, and my bakery share subscription, and at our local co-op. We don't drink soda. I have a large garden and grow some of what we eat.
But there is so much more I could do.
Meat. Oh, meat. See, we still want to eat meat. But we don't want to be supporting a system that is cruel and disrespectful to animals, workers, and the environment. One idea the family is floating around is to only buy our meat from local butcher shops from now on. That would be good. There is also a ranch near here that has organic, free-range meat that you can go "visit" if you want, and you can subscribe to a meat CSA for chickens or you can buy a 1/4 or 1/2 of a cow or a hog and then put it in your freezer.
We also should eat less meat, period. More vegetarian meals - more beans! I don't want to just replace meat with dairy (besides being lactose-intolerant, I see various ethical/environmental problems with heavy dairy use), or with "fake meat" made from soy. No, I think beans is the way to go.
And then the Whole Foods concept is also really important, and when I get busy it's too easy to let it slip. Basically, whole foods is when you shop for real, basic, whole foods, not for processed or "value-added" food products. Buy the tomatoes, not the tomato sauce. Buy the cucumbers and the vinegar, not the pickles. Buy the veggies and beans, not the can of soup.
I don't have time to take it to total extremes (I'm not going to churn my own butter, basically), but I enjoy canning and preserving and cooking. I own a large extra freezer. So I could do a "cook ahead" day, maybe with the whole family helping, and premake tamales, soup, muffins, etc. and stick them in the freezer.
Food, Inc. ends with these words:
You can vote on this system, three times a day.
What you buy, what you eat, does make a difference.