Monday, June 22, 2009
Food for Thought
Yet another subject, that I've been wanting to blog about for ages. Food! I was sorely reminded of an aspect of the food debate that's been rubbing me the wrong way, when we had elections for the European Parliament a few weeks ago. There were free postcards, and posters in busses, cafés etc. with the picture you see above. If your French is a bit rusty, the apple on the left says "organic", the one in the middle "conventional", and the one to the right "genetically modified". This is indeed how we classify food in our parts of the world nowadays, the status quo of food labelling if you will. Can anyone else see the problem with it? I didn't give it much thought until I had kids, and really thought about what exactly it is that we put into our bodies.
My mother-in-law said something once, that made total sense to me. She (she's 60-something) said: "When I was a kid, everything was organic". Meaning, the "conventional" label used to be what we now call organic, grown without artificial pesticides, fertilizer et.al. What happened? How did we let ourselves get duped into believing that it was okay to put poison on/in our fruit and veg., in the name of streamlining, and beefing up the production and profit of our food sources. The economy, stupid. I suppose, for the sake of a better living standard (although it seems to be biting us in the ass, in all manner of ways), this was fair enough. The economy grows, and conventional wisdom says that is "good". But as we learn now, we still know not the exact, long term effects of f*cking with our food. And as I learn, mostly by reading Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food should seriously be mandatory for anyone who is literate), the "organic", "conventional" and "G.M." monikers have so many levels of understanding, you practically have to have an edumacation just to go grocery shopping.
The baseline is this: I propose we re-label our foods. G.M. is what it is. But the "organic" label needs to go. Organic IS conventional (and was for thousands of years), and should be treated as such. So what to do about the other stuff? Would it be okay to label what we now call "conventional" as "Grown with the use of artifical pesticides and fertilizers"? Pretty long name. Maybe "GWUAPAF"? "GAPF"? Or how about just having a little picture of a devil on it? Ok, that's going overboard. I know a lot of people do not buy organic out of the principle, that it is unfair to the third world. Haven't quite gotten my head around that one yet, seeing as I don't see the connection between eating pesticides and helping the third world, but I suspect it is not without some validity.
I'll leave you with something I just read by Pollan. He tells of early pioneers in the field of fertilizing, breaking down the active components of nutrient rich soil to just three things, and basing all artificial fertilizers on a concentrated form of them. He also tells of the coca plant, which humans have been ingesting without ill effects, and how the three active ingredients in it are the same three active ingredients concentrated in cocaine and crack, which as we know is not good for the human body. Things that make you go, "hmm".
Posted by Jennie at 09:56