Hopeful Eating

I find myself sometimes getting lost in online conversations on internet forums or Facebook. There are so many controversial subjects these days, particularly among the parenting set–vaccinations, the breast vs. bottle debate, the safety of cosleeping, modes of discipline (or lack thereof), etc, etc, etc–and it is enough to drive me mad. I find myself often becoming so depressed by the fighting over what is right and what is wrong, and yet, I admit that there’s a part of my nature that gets sucked into these conversations and watching others argue. I watch, I become frustrated or angry, and then I find myself disheartened for the rest of the day.

Perhaps the most heated discussion I find is about what we’re eating, or not eating. There are so many hot button subtopics. Are GMOs safe for consumption? Are organic foods really the best? How can we stop the decimation of our environment created by these monocrop farms of corn and soy that are grown and maintained via the use of chemicals? How can we end the cruelty that occurs in overcrowded, unhealthy factory farms that are filled to the brim with thousands upon thousands of animals suffering together in such a small space? There’s rampant hunger due to the faltering economy. There are arguments over food stamps. There is wariness toward corn syrup, processed foods, additives, dyes, refined sugars. We worry about obesity and food related illnesses; we see malnutrition in American children. We worry about the origins of our food, the fact it is being trucked to us over thousands of miles, and sometimes, across continents. We have more and more people using the resources of food pantries. Our children are constantly bombarded by clever advertising that tries to encourage them to eat all of the wrong things.

It’s enough to just make you sad. It seems hopeless and futile. Where do we even begin to fix things? Where do we find honest answers? And will we find the answers in time to save our children and our future, our earth?

You can see why the discussions get so hostile. Sometimes, though, I feel like the anger ends up making things worse. We get enraged, fight with each other, just to win an argument on Facebook, and in the meantime, what is actually being accomplished? Is anything getting better? Are changes being made? Instead, we fight just to fight because we are upset, and we want changes, and we don’t know where to begin. We engross ourselves so much in the negative that we become blind to what reality actually is.

After a trip to a local organic farm, one where we receive our CSA, in fact, it dawned on me. At times, things do seem hopeless when it comes to the Standard American Diet (with the apt acronym of “SAD”). But, if we stopped fighting for a minute, stopped relishing our anger, stopped insisting that WE, and only WE, have the answers, we might truly see the good that is happening around us.

Change is happening. It is slow, it will take work, but it is happening. As I stood overlooking acres of organic farmland, I thought, how can we not see it?

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Organic foods are becoming more accessible to the masses. I can find them in discount stores, in the supermarket, at the farmers markets. More and more people are voting with their forks and wallets by demanding organic foods, and you can see this in the grocery store as the natural and organic sections grow bigger and bigger. Organic foods are the fastest growing subset in the food industry right now.

We might not have all of the answers regarding GMOs, but there are more and more people asking questions. Many are demanding that their foods be labeled. They are asking companies about whether or not they use genetically modified ingredients in their products. We want to know what is IN our food.

Along those lines, more and more are wanting foods made with simpler, and known, ingredients. We are looking at the labels before we buy a product. And when natural or unprocessed foods are hard to obtain, we are learning to make foods from scratch–mill our own flour, make our own bread, canning and preserving fresh produce ourselves.

We are becoming locavores. We want to know where our food comes from–we go to farmers markets, we join CSAs, we buy food directly from farms ourselves. We are buying our food in such a way that we can personally ask our farmers how they care for their livestock and how they grow their crops. Schools and businesses are adopting farm to table methods.

We are growing our OWN food. We are becoming gardeners, caretakers of backyard chickens and goats. We are learning to reap our own harvest from our own land.

I think we can become so fixated on the arguments, the worries, the problems, that we don’t see what is around us, and that change is happening. Change doesn’t happen by yelling at someone behind a computer screen. It occurs when we take action, take charge of our diets.

I have a lot of hope in what I see.

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