I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
This book is to me about food as Having Faith by Sandra Steingraber is to me about synthetic chemicals. Both books are well written and well researched. They are personal, political, hopeful and practical. They both get to the point about what’s wrong, what could change and why it matters.
Kingsolver talks about the relationship between country folk and city folk, how that relationship has more to do with what divides our country than abstract notions of red and blue. It made me reconsider, in a larger context, the relationship between my four cousins who grew up on a farm, and my sisters and I, from ‘the cities’.
Over and over the point is made that changes will happen when we as a society value awareness of our food, make efforts to preserve cultural knowledge, and stay connected/reconnect to food and land. We have to be engaged: to wonder and care and doing something about it.
I’m all inspired to eat more from the farmer’s market, pick more of my own food, find a place to grow it myself, and save food for winter.
The more you know about where food comes from, the harder the choices at the grocery store. For me, buying food was already fraught with some anxiety, but also much pleasure. But even more so after reading this book: I have a sense of food, food everywhere and not a bite to eat. No clearly sound options. The fruit section, for instance, at my doorstep Wild Oats (soon to be Whole Foods!), right now has seasonal fruits next to completely out of season ones, conventionally grown foods mixed in with organic, and local along with produce from Chile, Argentina and other places on other continents.
Just to compound the dilemma, I’m aware that this is richness: having a store with so many affordable foods available every day. Many people on earth don’t have access to this kind of abundance. So I don’t turn my nose up at it- I just feel like I have a responsibility to use it wisely, to direct production towards the greater food with my small food dollars, if possible.
I no longer consider bananas staple food, as I had for my whole life up until last week. I used to buy organic bananas, but I never really thought about their transportation miles.
Today I rejected the organic peaches (I will pick some farm fresh ones for myself soon,) and the plums (conventional and therefore suspect,) and the berries ($6/half pint!), and everything else. I did, however, buy local, organic huckleberries ($4/pint).