Personal is Political: On what I eat

I posted a quick link a few weeks back to the new documentary Food Inc.
I finally got to see it last week. In one word, it left me nauseated.
Ever since reading Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma a few years back, I became much more interested in the politics of food. It made me think more about ingredient lists, industrialized agriculture and the mass production of meat.
Well Food Inc took the whole scenario to another level entirely. The visual element, coupled with a really wholistic view of how our highly industrialized food system is impacting us, really hit me. They hit on so many issues: health, poverty, worker’s rights, immigration, environment, big business, government subsidies.
The way we eat is not a small problem. In fact, its connected to almost every other problem we work toward solving. The message of the movie is that you can make a difference, and what you choose to eat matters. I take that to heart, not just because of how it impacts my personal health, but how it might impact the health of my community, my environment, my economy.
I’m privileged. I live in a city with plentiful access to farmer’s markets during most of the year. There are Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) options, as well as a few co-ops and other locally grown natural food options. After seeing this movie, I’ve recommitted to buying exclusively from these venues. I can do it, because I don’t live in poverty and because I don’t live in a food desert as some do. Others can’t make this choice, because they can’t afford farmer’s market prices, because they need to feed their large families. But I can spend the extra money to support food that is wholesome and ethically grown and raised. I can eat meat once a week, rather than a few times a week, and pay more for animals not grown in a factory or shipped thousands of miles. I can make more foods from scratch, rather than buying prepackaged mixes with preservatives and chemicals. I can try my hand at gardening, even in my urban environment. I can support local farmers, bakers, cheese makers.
It’s amazing that something as fundamental as how we feed ourselves is only beginning to be scrutinized from a social justice perspective.
Do you garden? Participate in a CSA? Shop at farmer’s markets? Is the way you eat part of your activism?
If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, check it out. You’ll never be able to eat the same way again.

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