Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Protecting Our Food Borders

Through the years I've harbored crushes on men who were never to be mine. Take my fifth-grade love for Andy Gibb (dead). Or my late-high-school affection for George Michael (surprisingly, not playing for my team). These days, my crushes are centered on Don Draper (the character, not Jon Hamm who plays him), Stanley Tucci, and Michael Pollan. So there were schoolgirl screeches this weekend when we got the New York Times and found that the entire Sunday magazine was devoted to food, with a very large article contributed by Mr. Pollan. Be still my heart.

For those who haven't heard my blathering on about Michael Pollan, he's a journalist and food activist who is known for his wit, balance, and ability to boil down complex topics into readable prose. He spoke here in Indy last winter, and I waddled my nine-months'-pregnant self into Butler University to bask in his glory and giddily ask him to sign my copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma. I still get chills thinking of his discussing the difference between Food and "food," how we can turn around the current unhealthy eating situation in America, and sustainable agricultural practices. The stuff of dreams.

The article, which you can read here, is basically an open letter to the future president, explaining his thoughts on how government can help to take oil from food production and give the job of nurturing our food back to the sun, as it was intended.

Mike, as I like to call him, is a huge advocate of eating local where possible, something Phil and I have been trying to do more of in the last couple years. One argument he made, which I'd never thought of, however, is that it would be extremely easy for terrorists to attack through our centralized food supply. If your salad is coming from a mondo-farm in California that produces 20 million servings of salad a week, tainting that supply could quickly hit millions across the country in a way that tainting the supply of a weekend farmer at your local farmer's market couldn't.

Remember the big beef recall last winter? It affected 143 million pounds of beef that was distributed nationwide. Since Phil and I have started buying our antibiotic-free meat locally from a local farming family, our meat for an entire year has come from a single cow, and the packaging is labeled with our name (KITCHEL - BEEF STEW MEAT, it'll read). Should something go wrong, the source of the issue would be easy to trace and would be miles, not states, away.

While I don't see a terrorist around every corner and am as annoyed as the next air traveler about dispensing my toiletries into 3-ounce lots and collecting them in little baggies, it is something to think about. The current uber-farming system is bad for our health, it's bad for the environment, and it does make the possibility of hitting millions of people quickly relatively simple. Certainly, I'm guessing, more simple than building an on-board bomb from my hair conditioner.

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1 Comments:

Blogger amyzeats said...

Right on, mama! The other thing, of course, is if we don't support our local agriculture...there won't be any local agriculture to support. This past weekend, I went out to eastern LI to visit my dad and was deeply saddened to see over 100 acres of a farm for sale, right across the street from another former-farm that is now a glut of cookie-cutter "luxury" homes. Great.

11:52 AM  

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