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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Novice Foodie Isn't a Slow-Food Novice

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 3:15 PM

click to enlarge There's a good chance your food didn't come from anyone like her.
  • There's a good chance your food didn't come from anyone like her.
If there's one area of food where the Novice Foodie isn't such a novice, it's local, organic and sustainable foods -- a.k.a. Slow Food. I've been digging around to learn where my food comes from since I saw Canadian farmer/activist Percy Schmeiser speak while I was in graduate school. When I was a high-school teacher, I taught a class on environmental sustainability, and one major unit was food systems. I learned that the average teenager has little to no idea where their food comes from.

Judging by the lady I saw at Whole Foods complaining that there was blood in her package of chicken, I'd wager that most adults don't, either. So let's talk about where food comes from.

Don't worry, I'm not going to get all preachy on your ass. Food choices are intensely personal. Nor am I here to tell you, fair readers, that you should become a vegan or a vegetarian. But I am here to tell you that you can easily inform yourself about our questionable industrial food system and make your own choices about what you put in your mouth.

A great place to start -- particularly if you're starting from square one -- is the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. This film, co-produced by Eric Schlosser, author of the seminal Fast Food Nation, covers everything from our problematic, massive Farm Bill to the conditions behind animal production to the systematic destruction of family farms by agribusiness (featuring a not-so-flattering supporting role by St. Louis' own Monsanto). It's out on DVD right now, and if you're a Netflix subscriber, it's available to stream.

Want to dig deeper? I'd recommend the aforementioned Fast Food Nation as well as two other books: Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and Peter Singer's The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. Both take what's explored in Food, Inc. and go much deeper. Singer, an ethicist, provides one of the most compelling and convincing arguments about why our food choices, particularly in terms of animal agriculture, are important.

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