I am passionate about food. VERY passionate, as any friend who has shared a meal with me can tell you. (I even SOUND passionate when I eat, but don't think about that one too much.)
So, since this is my blog, I'm going to hop up on my Food Soapbox for just a minute and give you a rundown of things you maybe did not know:
Just about everything in the supermarket these days is made from #2 feed corn. Not the yummy stuff; FEED corn. It's in EVERYTHING...including meat. That "corn-fed" well-marbled steak? Yup. Farm-raised chicken? Check. FISH? That too. They eat it, you eat them, you are...CORN.
And #2 feed corn, when fed to cows, does a few things: It makes them fat, it makes them sick, they then require antibiotics to keep their organs from rupturing on a corn diet they shouldn't be eating, and then they're slaughtered at 15 months of age instead of 2 1/2 - 3 years.
#2 feed corn, when fed to US, does similar things: it causes an obesity epidemic. But shouldn't the parents make sure their kids eat healthy?, you argue. Yes...but when those people are poor, they buy the cheapest food made to feed the most people: processed corn-based CRAP. Plus, some of that corn break-down makes semi-addictive substances like flavorings that keep you wanting more and more, and it's tough to teach a kid the kind of self-control that will overcome the call of a bag of super-flavored sale-price chips. So we get sick...REALLY sick. Meanwhile, we eat meat that takes a ton of land and a ton of resources to create and that contains MORE CORN and all sorts of antibodies. Next time you go to the doctor, the antibiotics you're prescribed may not work so well.
Meanwhile, the corn is grown in giant fields of...corn. Or soy. Nothing else. No crop rotation, no natural growth; each stalk is a hybrid seed owned and PATENTED by a company called Monsanto who takes a huge chunk of farmer profits, and then sells the pesticide DESIGNED to work SPECIFICALLY on that type of corn. The corn is harvested and dumped on top of giant piles of...more corn. Why do we have so much corn that isn't being used? First, it's CRAP, and second, the government subsidizes it, so it's only profitable to the farmers to grow corn or soy in vast quantities: as much as you can in the smallest amount of space. Next season the farmers spray down their empty fields with chemical fertilizer...made by Monsanto.
Meanwhile, all those yummy veggie crops they used to grow (that don't taste as good as high fructose corn syrup and most kids won't touch with a 10 foot pole)? They're being grown in Chile and trucked in to us. Check out the sticker on your next tomato: probably Chile. And that tomato was picked waaaay under-ripe and spent days and days on a truck, so by the time it reaches you, how many nutrients are in that tomato? That's anyone's guess.
Meanwhile, the world's oil supply is diminishing. We don't like to talk about it, but there is a finite amount of oil in the world. Gas prices go up, which means it's more expensive to bring you Chilean tomatoes, so the prices of tomatoes goes up. And we get MAD. How dare food prices go up? Even though in the US we only spend 11% of our disposable income on food, and Europe spends between 18 & 21%, we think we deserve to pay less. This is America, after all, and we Americans love our food...as evidenced by our obesity issues. So we buy cheaper food and cut out the fresh stuff. The cheap stuff, though, is made with subsidized corn and makes us crave it and get fat and sick from it.
And what does the government do with all those piles of useless, unused feed corn? Make biofuel! Yippee, a use for the corn that makes them look like good guys for doing something about greenhouse gases! Except it doesn't, because it, too, is carbon-based, and must be burnt. NOT good for greenhouse gases. And it's an additive to our fuel, not a replacement for it. It's IN your gasoline when you fill up at Costco, not INSTEAD of your gasoline. But the government is desperate because the crude oil is running out, and Obama's not looking so good to the populace these days, so they're using up that junk corn to make it look like they know what they're doing.
But what can YOU be doing? Buy seeds like crazy so that Monsanto won't have 110% control. Grow a garden. A small one, a big one, a square foot one, it doesn't matter (but I do recommend square foot gardening for its ease and productivity). Plant fruit trees. Start a compost pile. Shop at farmer's markets. Learn to like vegetables and to insist that your kids eat them. Eat less meat and less cooked foods and go for raw veggies. Budget more for your groceries; you get what you pay for! Raise chickens. Buy a deep freezer and go in on a grass-fed cow with a few other families. Learn to cook...to prepare REAL food. I know this sounds like a lot of work, and it can be time-consuming, but when the day comes that gas is $8/gallon and the grocery stores are empty and the price of food is through the proverbial roof and you can't remember the last time you had meat, you'll be so grateful you did.
I love food, but more importantly I need it. I literally can't live without it, and neither can you. Find a way to reconnect with your food. Your kids will thank you.