Organic, beyond organic, local, 100 miles, sustainable, Non-GMO, heirloom varieties, hybrid varieties, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, pescatarian, pasture-raised, free-range, wild-caught, grass-fed, etc. etc. etc.
If you follow all the labels and categories and diets, you might end up looking like this: (cue unoriginal and totally unsurprising JLaw gif)
Why the heck can’t I just eat the food on my plate?
I just spat out a bunch of phrases that came to mind when I think of food. We’ve attributed meanings to all these terms to somehow denote food that might be better for our health, better for the environment, and might even taste better. But when it comes down to it, does it really matter whether my bananas came from Ecuador?
The short answer is that it matters. The way we eat – in large quantities, irrespective of seasons, and cheaply – has made it matter.
Food has become centralized, industrialized and commercialized. You don’t actually have the ability to know which farm and under what conditions your steak was raised, or what migrant family’s children were sick for weeks because of the blueberries in your smoothie.
But we need big agriculture to feed the world’s ever-growing population, right?
Aside from the multiple socio-economic factors and global power dynamics that contribute to alleviating hunger, we already grow enough food to feed everyone in the world. One in eight people of the world are still hungry. Something must be wrong with this system.
What about if people were actually able to own their food culture? If we didn’t depend on governments and systems to tell us what to eat? If we actually knew how to grow our own food? If we invested in taste and nutrition instead of how to keep a crop pest resistant and hardy enough to travel several hundred miles?
I can’t say I know the solution, but I can say, Big Agriculture doesn’t work. It tastes horrible, it’s less nutritious, the human toll is unethical, inhumane and ridiculous in this day and age, and it completely ruins our land.
It really does matter where your food comes from, because eating now has so many ripple effects that we’d prefer not to think about at the dinner table – or at all if we’re honest.
But maybe it’s time every individual start looking for an alternative, one big change or baby steps at a time.
Everyone has to eat, so while we’re at it, we might as well make eating a fulfilling experience in every way.