Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Future of Food

One of the participatory aspects of the online group that I belong to, Destroyers of Mass Production, is that any member can throw down a challenge to the other members. Some of the past challenges have included sewing blankets for the homeless and surreptitiously posting anti-war messages in public. A current challenge is to grow your own food.

I saw a very disturbing film last night that left me tossing and turning and that seems to relate to this topic if only because it has to do with growing your own food. It's called The Future of Food. It talks about the origins of genetically engineered food and what GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are doing to our food supply. Not only do these foods contain harmful chemicals, bacteria, and antibiotics but because they are corporate hybrids they can be patented. If the wind or a bird drops a seed that has been patented onto a farmer's field and it cross pollinates with that farmer's crops, the resulting strain of corn, for example, may contain the marker gene that is patented. That farmer can then be held liable for violating patent law. Incredible as it sounds, many farmers have been sued for this very reason. Farmers, our food suppliers, are being put in a position where they must buy these genetically engineered patented seeds each time they plant for fear of being sued. This affects us because it reduces the variety and quality of produce that is available to us. Seeds are being patented all the time, so eventually even small organic farmers may be affected.

After a year of being vegetarian, I was feeling pretty happy every time I went to the grocery store and thought about how I wasn't eating meat that had chemicals and antibiotics. I went out of my way to look for cheese and dairy products that contain no rBST and I'm a label reader so my processed foods have to meet certain criteria. But where are the labels on our produce? Why shouldn't we know how our fruits and vegetables are being farmed? If I'm eating genetically modified food I want to know it. If my corn on the cob is classified as a pesticide because any insect that eats it dies, (yes, this is true) I want to know!

Here is a summary of what crops, foods and food ingredients have been genetically modified as of July, 2007:

Currently Commercialized GM Crops in the U.S.:
(Number in parentheses represents the estimated percent that is genetically modified.)

Soy (89%)
Cotton (83%)
Canola (75%)
Corn (61%)
Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%)
Alfalfa, zucchini and yellow squash (small amount)
Tobacco (Quest® brand)


I know I'm ranting like a lunatic, but I'm angry. What kind of world am I leaving to my kids? We are allowing corporate greed to ruin our lives. That's what it all boils down to - this stupid war, global warming, genetically engineered food, it's unchecked corporate greed. So let's plant our gardens and let's press to make corporations accountable not only to their shareholders but to the rest of the world!


Jenny Lens said...

Alice, first you are not ranting nor a lunatic. The lunatics are those of us who let elected officials and big business, agribusiness, chemical companies and the medical establishment get away with this crap, while also lining their pockets with our money.

The issue of GMOs been going on for awhile. Now that "organic" has become profitable, those same companies are watering down the standards, so that soon organic will be as suspect as GMO.

It's going to take a lot more people speaking up to enact change. And by that time, it might be too late.

Recently an African village turned down money from the Bush Administration because they would be forced to use GMO corn.

Mexican farmers are already alarmed that heirloom maize/corn are being polluted by these GMO frankenfoods.

I've recently gotten back into raw foods in a big way. I am so concerned because my ability to purchase organic seeds (via mail order) to sprout and veggies/fruit from the farmer's market is being severely compromised every day.

I can only say that my body, emotions, mind, spirituality -- my whole being is undergoing transformations on both cellular and spiritual levels unlike anything I have ever experienced.

It's been an on/off process for years, and each time it's an amazing adventure. I get off track due to work, stress, lack of money/time, but most of all, lack of focus.

It takes time and a regular routine, going outside my comfort zone to create new, healthier habits. I only get healthier and stronger due to one thing: nourishment from food as God or Mother Nature intended. It's not enough for me to exercise, meditate, focus on my work, do any other good things unless I also eat fresh salads and make my own veggie juices, which are truly the staff of life.

Healthy plant foods are the foundation of life. It's as simple as that. Humans ate for thousands of years before they discovered fire or domesticated animals.

It's not just what kind of food we leaving for future generations, but quality of life right now. Chimpanzees are the only primates who eat meat and they are also the most vicious. Apes, gorilla, bobonos, baboons, etc. only eat plant materials. Unlike chimps, they are all gentle creatures (unless provoked, then they will defend themselves).

One thing Gore never mentioned in his movie, "Inconvenient Truth," is the effect of cows, pigs and chicken on air pollution. Cows are not designed to be eating what industry feeds them. They, excuse my expression, fart more than normally. Animals grown to feed humans emit huge amounts of toxic gases.

Plus rain forests and other green lands are burned to grow grass to feed cattle. Cutting trees and other plants/vegetation depletes oxygen (greens convert carbon dioxide that we breathe out into oxygen that we breathe in. Only lunatics would destroy that which keeps us alive). Slash and burn and cutting green lands destroys vegetation we haven't even explored (plus affect the animals, insects, etc.).

The destruction of the natural habitat via fire or other means leads to floods, and once the cows are done, the land is done. (I can't remember if Gore discussed that aspect of environmental destruction: the meat and dairy industries).

If we all gave up meat, or ate it maybe one or two nights a week, as a treat, the amount of oil saved, decreased pollution, etc. would be enormous. Milk does not do the body good and robs your body of valuable calcium. There's a reason so many are lactose-intolerant. Humans are not designed to drink cow's milk. We are the only animals who eat milk past infancy.

The amount of oil saved and increased health is staggering just by eating food that is seasonal and locally grown. The farmers markets in LA bring farmers from south San Diego, traditional northerly central California farm areas and the easterly dessert vs flying/shipping from all over the world.

Plus eating seasonally and per your geography is the healthiest way to live. If you live in Vermont, Michigan, the Dakotas, etc. and it's January, then please, get your fresh greens shipped in, but not from Chile. I overhead a man telling a woman from Chile that most of the produce they buy from Whole Foods is from Chile. That's a travesty when the United States can and should produce more foods locally. Don't eat grapes in January. Eat citrus, full of vitamins A and C, needed for cold and flu season. Eat juicy, watery melons in the heat of summer.

Nature provides the right food in the right season.

Alice, please continue to write about this, but never ever criticize or judge anyone but the greedy people who are truly killing life as we know it.

Finally, where did you see the movie? TV or theater or the DVD? (thanks for the link!). I'll keep my eye out for it. I've been reading about this for years, and yet the public still either is unaware or simply cannot fathom the results of our modern, "progressive" food manufacturing. Yes, food manufacturing, not food growing.

Have you read "Fast Food Nation"? (skip the gawd-awful movie! It bears no resemblance to the fascinating, detailed research by Eric Schlosser). Or seen "Super Size Me"? I can't say enough good things about them!

I am about to read "Paradox of Plenty, a social history of eating in modern America," from Harvey Levenstein. I borrowed it from the library, recommended in something I read in my ongoing and increasing raw foods research.

I've studied health and nutrition since before punk. I truly feel one reason I survived my crazy sex and drugs lifestyle during punk was due to with one arm I shot speed and the other arm I drank carrot juice, ate vegetarian and took lots of vitamins/minerals. I knew what I was doing was self-destructive, but it fit my temperament at the time.

"Health and nutrition" was something I even taught during the day while I took photos at night. It's a phrase people throw around, but few actually think about the role of food, nutrition and physical/emotional health.

It's a passion of mine, mostly because the whole issue of what we eat and how we look and feel has been the number one issue in my life. Yet it's the most misunderstood issue, because the people who have the power to heal us and feed us correctly -- the government, agribusiness, chemical companies and the medical establishment -- make far more money by making this a very toxic world.

Please keep up the good work. My quest now is figuring how to incorporate my love of healing, my knowledge and practical experience so that it becomes my work, my source of income, my reason for being. I grew up on my mother's nursing books. I struggled as a child to decide whether to become a biochemist or an artist, and only chose art because I found scientists to be sexist and close-minded.

At 5 I wanted to be the next Madame Curie and discover the cure for cancer. At 5? How did I even know about all that? I have no idea. The irony is nutrition plays a bigger role in healing cancer than most of the traditional medical procedures, so I have never veered from my early childhood dream. My mother is a wise and intuitive healer. She has saved many lives and shared her knowledge with me. But she is not that knowledgeable about nutrition (a common problem amongst traditionally trained medical professionals). I have the knack for sharing complex info yet in simple terms.

But to spread the word means finding the most effective platform, and that's something I'm about to explore. It won’t be fast nor easy, so I have to figure out how to go about this quest efficiently . . . not easy . . .

I'll still work on my photos, but for the last couple months I've been moving towards a different lifestyle, different focus, and healthy eating always is on my mind. I'm caught in two worlds and money, as always, so tight. The results of the work I've done in the last couple of weeks have been nothing short of amazing. Now how to share that . . .

So please speak up! Don't ever let anyone try to make you feel badly or accuse you of being a "ranting lunatic." There was a time, not that long ago, when Linus Pauling was assailed for his pioneering vitamin C research. Ann Wigmore was dismissed for her raw foods theories (which admittedly were pretty wild when she published her landmark book, "Recipes for Longer Life," in 1980). I am blown away by how far and wide the raw foods community has grown in the last 7 years.

I didn't pay close attention (mostly focused on my photos), but now, wherever I turn around, it's there. Not big, not like the Mediterranean, Zone, Atkins, or similar eating programs. Those also get far more press and general endorsements and acceptance. But suggest raw foods veganism (or even cooked veganism), and the medical establishment and the press become attack hounds. After all, the meat and dairy industry have powerful financial influence in all media and traditional medical field. But for a seemingly radically, difficult lifestyle, more and more people are becoming enlightened. And it doesn't have to be 100%. There's a lot to it that's perfectly easy for everyone to adopt/adapt, with remarkable results.

I could list many now-accepted health concepts only 10-20 years ago were thought to be crazy. But people were angry, like you and I, or in many cases, wouldn't let destructive anger into their lives, and just wouldn't shut up. And the world is better off for people like you and I expressing these important views and sharing the news.

Nicole Panter said...

alice, you should check out Native Seeds an amazing organization headed by my friend Brynn and located in Tucson, what they are doing is a true antidote to f*ckers like Monsanto....
happy new year,
nicole p.