January 31, 2010

A food revolution: My reaction to Food Inc.

You know me. I eat everything. Never say no to anything except for margarine, sweeteners, and anything boasting low calories or low fat.

Just about a year ago, I had a rant about people not eating what they preach. As I am a non-selective omnivore, I don't preach about cruelty to animals if I was still buying farmed meats. It wasn't because I was against ethical eating. But my belief is that if you personally don't eat ethically, you don't have any rights to whine about how bad it is out there for the animals or the planet.

After I watched Food Inc., I now have one foot in the door of ethical eating. I'm still a long way from being a complete preacher for the cause, but at least I am going to try to get as many people as I can to watch this film and work it out for themselves.

Before this movie, I have started going to the farmers market and be conscious of what I bring home a little bit more for a few reasons. First, there *is* a convenient farmers market right here in Long Beach. Duh! And lastly, Brandon has a sensitive stomach that reacted to a few things. We have come to find out that it is most likely the high fructose corn syrup. On my part, I tried to look at the label as much as I can to weed HFCS out of his diet. He does a little bit too but not quite as much.

But this film actually gets Brandon himself to start looking at labels on his own. (Although he still can't quite get rid of Dr. Pepper but he has reduced the amount consumed tremendously.)

Now THAT is the power of Food Inc.

What changed our minds is to watch as the food conglomerate manipulate every aspect of the food chain for their profits.

The seed license thing pisses us off royally. You have to use their seeds or if you even get a cross-pollination, now your feed is theirs because of the genetic marker which subsequently drive all the farmers to use only their seeds and had to buy new ones every season. And the seed company, the only one there is, doesn't get prosecuted for monopoly? Seriously?

Brandon had first hand experience with this when he spent a year at a college in Oklahoma. The college obviously had a focus in agriculture. His friends were ranchers and farmers, so he heard all of these corporate bullying stories.

Sure, I'm no farmer myself and can't say that I know one. But I grew up in a country where rice farming is the life blood. I cannot imagine somebody out there in Thailand going after poor farmers saying they cannot use their rice as seeds, that they need to buy seed rice from just this one company every season. Seriously. I cannot even fathom that.

Now, on to the meat. I am still a long way away from giving up meat altogether. But after Food Inc., I am trying my best to not purchase or consume commercial chicken.

What changed my mind is the footage of the newly hatched baby chicks piled onto moving conveyor belt to get sorted, grabbed up one by one and stamped on the head to go to a farm where their feed has been engineered so that they would grow so fast and with much larger breasts that their bones and internal organs can't keep up. They would take 2 or 3 steps before they had to sit down again and many of them flat out died because of the growth spurt.

However, the image of happy piggies on a free range farms makes me want to eat them more. LOL. But I digress.

Another thing Food Inc. brought up, which has also been the reason why I haven't ventured into ethical eating sooner, is the high cost of "real foods". When you can feed your entire family of 4 for $10 at McDonald's but you can buy a few pound of fruits for just that much, most people would go for the McDonald's because that is all they can afford.

That was us for many years. Now that we are able to pay a little more for our foods, we try to shift that direction and find savings in other aspects of our lives instead. But still, when Food Inc. put it in front of us to see how things are being manipulated so that fresh food is more expensive than fast food, that doesn't sit well with us either.

Then again, we *are* addicted to junk food here as well. We are no angels. But I must say that the guilt associating with pulling up to any drive through has gotten a little bit heavier that before.

But man, watching how "meat filler" was made really turns me off to buying burger patties ANYWHERE.

So there. Personally, I am going to try to...
  • Cut down / Give up commercially-grown chicken and commercial burger patties.
  • Avoid any products with HFCS as much as I possibly can.
  • Eat seasonally and locally. Whatever fruits and veggies I can get at the farmers market should be the ingredients for my dinner. If I have to go to grocery store for a produce, that means it is not in season and I shouldn't be eating it in the first place.
  • If I can help it, buy organic or humanely raised/killed meat. This one is a tough one, however I am going to try!
Oh, and I have started to do Meatless Monday thing on Tuesdays. Not to save the planet but for a spiritual reason. You can follow my progress over at OakMonster.com.

Now, off you go. Rent Food Inc. If you have Netflix, you can watch it right now on your computer or through your XBox.

Do it. It'll totally change how you see what you're eating now.


Do you have any tips to share on how to eat more ethically or how you are changing the way you're eating at home? Share them right here in the comments. I can use some suggestions. :)


ETA: Just got back from farmers' market with a pound of ground bison to once again make bison burgers. Whole Foods was just a stone throw away but the Mister rather us spend $$ to support the grass-fed, free roam bison ranchers. I don't mind that at all.

Also, I went into Fresh & Easy, picked up my favorite grab-and-go chicken masala and rice, and after much internal debate, I put it back down. I REALLY frickkin' love that stuff but I wouldn't be sticking to my ethical eating guns if I consciously purchase that thing. I'm proud of what I did...but at the same time a little sad about not eating what I like any more. :-(


Sarah @ Ordinary Days said...

Just finished watching Food, Inc a few minutes ago. I love that you made goals from your reactions. I feel a little overwhelmed with everything I learned. So thanks for inspiring me to put those thoughts down on paper and turn them into goals.

J.C. said...

As you know, I became a vegetarian about a year & a half ago. It was not really intentional although I've always been one of those who's tried to be naive about where meat comes from for as long as I can remember. I read the book "Skinny Bitch" after watching Ellen talk about it on her show, although didn't really know what it was about (I just remember he saying that it changed her life & she felt much better after improving her eating habits). The authors, in a very in-your-face but humorous way, describe the meat-making process in all its gory detail, along with the harsh reality of what's involved with raising animals for food & the 'hidden' dangers in most processed foods. I did not go as far as some people I know who read that book & become vegan (I'm just not ready to give up dairy!), but I could no longer pretend that the meat I was consuming wasn't living before then. It's been hard since I'm married to a big carnivore, but I do feel better, physically & ethically.

Another book that I recommend--not at all about vegetarianism--is "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." It's about a family trying to eat locally for an entire year, & it talks about the benefits of consuming non-CFAO meat products. I think you'd like this one. As a bonus, it's got some great recipes!

Oak, I admire how much thought you've put into your food choices (although I'm still not keen on all that bacon--LOL)! If only others could be more like you. Sigh... :-)

Heather K said...

I've actually got the movie on our Netflix cue but have been avoiding it because I think it's going to cause such a drastic change in our eating habits. I'll go ahead and watch it - time to get my head out the sand and take responsibility for my part of the food chain mess. King Corn is also a good documentary about the corn industry and how it's causing problems.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Very interesting post! I didn't know much about seed licenses but that's quite shocking! I am going to try and get a hold of Food Inc now. Thankyou! :D

Anonymous said...

this is corporate america running over the little guy big time, what we as americans have to relize is that this isnt only happening in the meat industry , our whole system, has been corrupted and ultimately desinged to to last. I used to work at a Smithfield plant, Kinston, not that i've been in prission but i know first hand that A: it felt like prission,i was a packer and there were nights where they had 1lb packs of ham coming on a coveyor belt to be packed stalked up at 24 per box, that means at the speed the conveyor was going i had to stack up and position 12 packs in the box at the time B:most of my coworkers were ex-conv(not that that's bad but there were repeated offenders) and Smithfields actually gets a tax cut for every ex-con they hire.

Catherine said...

Good thing you're now checking the labels. high fructose corn syrup is so dangerous to our health that's why we need to choose what we eat.