Tuesday, March 24, 2009
A week's hiatus as we swirled around our home prepping and cleaning and fixing...sigh. I was even able to take in some reading, my favorite Sunday indulgence, The NY Times. Two insightful articles on a recent roaring revolution concerning food. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse was highly celebrated as ushering in the local movement in the early 1970's. And it seems the new administration is of like-mind as Michelle is digging an organic garden on the South Lawn as we speak. Tom Vislack, the unlikely yet heralded new Secretary of Agriculture, is also making waves by suggesting a single food safety agency and promoting an urgency for reform of school lunches and thus health care. It was said that the sustainable movement has new legs of late due to the attention and demand of consumers (this is where we come in). Likewise, the reciprocal love-fest with Whole Foods Markets was noted as redefining what a grocery store should look like, and be! Following in suit are giants such as Wal-Mart and HJ Heinz, offering organic, natural and local products with lower additives. Everyone seems to be getting it, that the quality and sourcing of food are inextricably linked to our health care system, economy and planet.
That said, the articles do concede practicality and expense. And while organic living has been met with 'considerable enthusiasm' and quantifiable results, it meets our pocketbooks a bit abruptly. But weigh this, Americans 'get 7 percent of calories from soft drinks' and 'each consume an average of nearly 2 pounds a day of animal products'. The organic question is obviously secondary, albeit important to the health of farmers and our environment. What the article calls for is simply a shift to 'real food', to buying local, to actually cooking a meal. This shift would in turn 'reduce the amount of land, water and chemicals used', 'incidence of lifestyle diseases', and 'greenhouse gases from industrial production'. The Times reminds us that even an Oreo can be 'organic' and we should note our choices supporting health and sustainability are vast and varied. 'Organic' is one option indeed but must be met wisely, beyond the label. The bigger umbrella of 'sustainability' comes in many forms and offers a plate at the table for everyone.
image of South American estancia (and self-sustaining farm) by greg rannells