Something is terribly wrong with how this country gets and eats its food. Why is a hamburger at a fast food "restaurant" cheaper than fruit at the grocery store? Why do children not know how produce is grown? Why is the general public at ease with eating meat that is pumped full of antibiotics and other nasty drugs?
I watched Food, Inc. yesterday and, although it was really nothing I hadn't heard or seen before, it was a good reminder that we (meaning developed, western countries, but mostly including America) need a change. We ought to be worried about feeding whole, unprocessed foods to our families, not dishing out junk foods full of high fructose corn syrup and GMO'd soy. I am disappointed that people don't want to change. I understand the convenience of buying an already-prepared basket of fries at Jack in the Box. I will be the first to admit that in college, I let all my nutrition boundaries go out the window. I was completely enthralled by the amount of junk that I could ingest while I stayed up late working on homework or papers. However, after graduating, I soon realized that the reason I had gained so much weight and felt awful was because I was eating things that weren't really supposed to be eaten! My favorite snack my senior year of college was white frosting with chocolate chips. No joke. I ate this regularly. I look back at that and shudder. I can barely think about frosting now, even vegan frosting, without shaking my head in disgust.
I'm now a vegan by choice, and I realize that it's not for everyone. I simply don't love the taste of meat. Once in a great while I'll crave bacon (c'mon, who doesn't crave bacon?!), but meat has never been the focal point for my meals. I understand that some people just can't imagine their lives without meat. I do understand that, but I also know that it's quite possible to change that mindset and refrain from eating so much meat. Just as you can tell yourself that you're hungry and want another French fry, so you can also just as easily tell yourself that your taste buds really want a nice veggie burger instead of a Big Mac. It's also a matter of wanting to change. If you don't want to put in the effort, you won't, and it's as simple as that. We need to figure out a way to encourage change without scaring people away.
A major reason I persist in this lifestyle change is that I know exactly where and how my food comes to me. If I'm hosting a dinner party, it's important that I be able to share with my guests how local the foods I'm serving are. It's a point of pride for me to shop locally and seasonally. As the farmers' market season approaches, I eagerly anticipate each new piece of produce I can buy and share.
As a matter of principle, I eat very few processed foods. I can literally count on one hand the amount of packaged goods I had in the last week (only 3: lite coconut milk, GF rice crackers, and organic corn flakes). Of course, that is not necessarily indicative of a vegan diet (certainly, before I went on my cleanse, my diet was less-than-stellar). Many omnivores (my oldest sister is a great example!) strive to grow their own plots of vegetables and fruit and buy their meats directly from the source. However, that is sadly not the norm, for both omnivores and herbivores, and can even seem extremist to the general public that just doesn't want to spend the time or money.
In conclusion, I simply ask that you look at the food you are putting into your mouth today and really ask where it came from. How was it grown? Was the tomato ripe when it was picked? Was the chicken farmed in an enclosed, barely-ventilated shed or allowed to see the open sky on a family farm? Was the corn genetically modified and grown from one type of kernel? Did you talk to the person who made this? Think about these things and then ask yourself if you're ready for a change. Even though congress votes on these subjects, we are able to vote with how and what we buy and eat. Go vote for change today by choosing local, sustainable foods that are whole and natural and unprocessed. And enjoy; not only do these foods benefit our bodies and our economy, they taste a lot better as well.