Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Food Culture

As a nutrition student I think about food, read about food and talk about food quite a bit and one conclusion I’ve reached is that the food culture in the great US of A is profoundly disturbed. For all of human history and well into the 20th century human lives revolved around the acquisition and preparation of food. Food was the center-piece of survival, even trumping clothing, shelter, and procreation, for without food, women cannot bear children. And then, like magic, the industrialization and ago-business of the 20th century make calories so available that rather than fighting starvation as we have done since time began, we are suddenly faced with an obesity epidemic that we are woefully unprepared mentally and physiologically to deal with.

With industrialization and globalization of the food supply food, nourishment went from the center-piece of human existence to the periphery without a second thought. The current expectation regarding food is that it is to be quick, cheap and here. It should require very little energy to procure and prepare and instead of costing the most, it should be the least expensive of all the necessary survival requirements. Food is life, yet we give it the attention of an annoying knat.

The entire country has been hoodwinked into thinking that food is cheap and easy, when in reality, is it neither. It costs money to grow and distribute food, and the damaged sustained by the environment with the pollution of having plums from Chile in the middle of winter is irreparable. Only with government subsidies to the corn, soy, wheat and rice does our “food” remain so cheap that American balk at paying reasonable prices for fresh, nourishing produce. And this, in a nutshell, is the origin food movements to eat locally and sustainably, so more money goes back into the local economy and local farmers.

For more information on our food supply, check out The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

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