Last month on OATV, Rod Rotondi, the owner of Leaf Cuisine in Los Angeles, showed Laura how to make his Hale Kale Salad. They had a great conversation about how our relationship with food has changed over the years. Today, the vast majority of Americans, are disconnected with their food and where it comes from. Laura suggested we get back in touch with our food and start asking questions about where it comes from.
Before asking where it came from, I think we should ask when did this change? How did we become so disconnected from our food?
Here are three things/events that I think lead us down this path:
The World Wars
It was after the World War I and II, that pesticides and chemicals started to be heavily used on produce. This was supposed to be able to yield higher returns on crops because it keeps those "harmful and pesky" bugs away.
This made traditional farming methods such as crop rotation and animal fertilization obsolete. It led to the mass farming practices that are practiced today amongst conventional farmers. This new way of farming allowed farmers to grow massive amounts of crops and ship them nationally (and globally).
People could now get their (cheaper) produce from a farmer that was hundreds or thousands of miles away and spraying who knows what on it.
The Feminist Movement
Before I get lambasted for this one, please let me explain. I actually got this idea from Barbara Kingsolver in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
She mentions that the Women's Liberation movement was positioned as getting women out of the kitchen and into the workforce, which it did.
You know what else also happened at the same time? Heavily processed foods started to show up in the stores.
Up until that time, women spent time at home preparing meals from scratch for their families. Therefor they had a better connection with their food because they were preparing it.
Suddenly someone else was put in charge with this responsibility.
This is a result of the two reasons mentioned above. Advertisers and marketers are smart people. They know how to illicit responses.
In the case of the chemically sprayed produce, it is positioned as being able to feed more people and a cheaper method. It is also given the name "conventional." The method that was around for years was given the new label of "organic."
Why not call it what it is? Chemically sprayed. Why was the method that's been around since the beginning given this new label? Organic is the way that produce has been farmed for thousands of years.
As for the Women's Movement, all of these new processed and packaged foods are advertised as quick and easy because "you don't have time to cook a meal for your family. We can do it for you. Just pop this in the microwave."
Now instead of chicken with mashed potatoes, homemade gravy and broccoli, families are eating high fructose corn syrup, salt, hormone injected chickens and a bunch of unpronounceable additives.
These are all reasons that I started an organic vegetable garden on my fire escape. I've also made a New Year's Resolution to eat more seasonal and locally grown produce.
The purpose of this post isn't to point out a bunch of problems and offer no solutions. There are simple ways that you can eat organic and local on a budget. You can grow your own, join a CSA, join food co-op or go to a local farmers market.
Build a relationship with the people that are growing and making your food. Ask them questions about growing practices and where the food came from. You owe it to yourself.
Mike Lieberman resides in NYC. He is someone who walks their talk as a living, breathing demonstration of how sustainable living is possible anywhere. Lieberman shows others how they can do the same on his own blogs and writes for others around the web. You can find him atCanarsieBK.com.