Sunday, September 7, 2008

we are what we eat.. uh oh!

after reading naomi klein's the shock doctrine and no logo, i picked up stuffed & starved at bluestockings bookstore in the lower east side. a friend had raved about it, and naomi klein called it "the product of a brilliant mind and a gift to a world hungering for justice."

what else can we do besides make smart choices at the local health food store or shop at the local farmers market? choosing smart food products feels just as impossible as choosing stuff not made in china, vietnam, the phillippines.

reading UC berkeley professor raj patel's investigation into the global food network inspires, upsets and informs. tracing the history of the world food system's ills and abuses, he also reports on the success of powerful collective groups of farmers who are taking back their land and humanizing the food production process.

his conclusion contains the heart of his argument and his plan for us to rebalance what we eat and how it's produced. he asserts several theoretical changes to get us active, thinking and sharing what we know:

1. transform our tastes -- wean ourselves from the sugar, salt, fat and processed products that food corporations push on us & learn to savour food differently. patel suggests the companies who "benefit most from the food system's inequities" must be held accountable. taxing processed food is a start to put pressure on agribusiness, just as removing soda and candy vending machines from schools (nj) or banning transfats (nyc) sends a strong message from public health advocates.

2. eat locally & seasonally -- buy local products, avoid those superstores/walmarts, and support locally owned businesses as much as possible. local food will taste more fresh than food that is treated to travel long distances. it will cost less and have a lower impact on the environment.

3. on a much broader level -- directly understand the human element of where and how our food is produced, and support farm workers rights and living wages for all. shouldn't we all have access and wages to afford higher priced fair trade and organic food?

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