Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Prop 37's Failure to Pass

I'm sorry CA let us down, but Prop 37 raised a HUGE amount of awareness about genetically modified foods, their lack of proper testing and potential risks on humans and other creatures eating them. As per FARFA's Face Book post this morning, 47% of California voters -- over 4 million people -- still voted in favor of labeling GMOs. Bottom line is that we need more organic farmers AND we need the population to STOP eating so much processed food!
ok, a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea....

 The farmer at the end of the movie FOOD, Inc. said it best when he basically said that "we'll" grow what "you" demand us to grow. So if the public continues to demand they grow crappy, processed cheap "food" - that's what most farmers will grow, because, hey, they have bills to pay, too. 

The American consumer has more power than they give themselves credit for.  But many of us are stuck in old habits with old, unchallenged taste buds. It's not easy to change - but we really need to make some changes, even if it's gradually, if we're going to have more access to healthy, affordable, fresh food that is grown in a way that is safe for our environment as well as the safest for our families to consume. If we're going to live with less disease, less obesity, less medical bills and more life!

Maybe if we grew a third ear or if it was more OBVIOUS that we shouldn't eat unnatural foods, it would be easier to convince people that this stuff is probably not the best choice to be feeding themselves, much less their kids, in the long run. But it's problems down the road we don't see today or those we can't quite connect the dots to - yet - that keeps so many so blind to the benefits of learning how to cook from scratch - you know, how to read a recipe and have sit down family dinners instead of drive-through snacks on the way to this game or that practice or lesson. 

I think we need to all SLOW DOWN again. It's not easy, everyone else is running too and no one wants to be left behind. But there are some of us who are dragging our feet on purpose these days - and you know what? It's kind of fun.

I used to be a corporate person, in another life. I did the meetings, conferences, deadlines, budgets, audits, etc.  Then it was to the gym and once a week shopping at the grocery store.  But one thing I did do, is usually go home to make dinner. My mom taught me how to cook and my father and brother were my test kitchen from age 14 until I moved out on my own.  Of course in my early single days, I ate like crap, too. I had a studio apartment and had a bowl of popcorn and a TAB for dinner after having had a large order of fries and another TAB for lunch which had been precidented with a bowl of raisin bran and a POP TART for breakfast on many days.  But I digress. We all have skeletons in our closets. 

While doing the corporate thing, I mowed the grass once a week, planted a few flowers and a small garden. (I suppose that may surprise a few of you - but I didn't always play in the dirt full time.) I loved growing things, but I didn't make much time for it because I was too busy working and going to the gym – when I had a great "workout" right at home waiting for me every day. I suspect many of you would love growing things, too, and have that same, free workout in your back yard, but haven't figured out how to work it into your lives yet either.

Turnips, fresh from the garden, are a versatile veggie for the imagination. Google for some recipes and have a ball!
Let’s make it easier than a total lifestyle change. What if you try a new vegetable this week - or a new recipe with an old familiar one.  And that may require a major change if you don't normally cook anything from scratch at home, but make it a side dish if nothing else.  Do this every week for the rest of the year - and then in January, try the "meatless Monday" challenge. Just give it a try. I bet, you won't even miss the protein one day a week. You may find you feel better by the time those familiar summer veggies start going in the ground again. And by then, you may find yourself wanting to plant a little garden - and I suggest you start small.

A garden takes a little bit of work, especially to get started with a Bermuda lawn in the way.  You can hire someone to help you get a plot going, but I really suggest doing the upkeep yourself.  Give the gym a day off a week, too, and play in the dirt instead. Raking soil or mulch, bending over and weeding, carrying bags of mulch or compost – it’s a great workout, and it's FREE! And who knows, maybe by the end of the warm growing season, you'll be so hooked on growing something of your own you'll be joining an organic garden club, or just meeting neighbors who are home from the gym gardening, too. Use those 8' fences as trellises to grow cacuzza or pole beans. Or better yet, replace it with a chain link fence so you and your neighbors can actually talk and compare garden notes. You can grow lots of things on a chain link fence.

No, I'm not a vegetarian, I don't have a neighbor that gardens, nor am I a food purist. (my bottle of 
Log Cabin in the pantry will attest to that - and make some shudder and gasp. I guess all have a childhood vice, we hang on to, too.) But if we look in our homes and purge as many of our bad food habits as we can - not only will we find a lot of new storage space for our Tupperware containers, but we'll find a whole new, fun and delicious way of eating. And often, once you purge your taste buds' memories of those processed flavors, the office party food won't taste so good. You'll find yourself making something really cool to bring to that potluck luncheon so you know there's something there you want to eat. And your food bill will gradually start to go down. Really.

So use up the last of those breakfast toaster pastries - and learn to make a simple coffee cake.  Finish up the cheese in a can - and learn to make some cheese yourself. Take a cooking class - with your kids - and teach them how to be more sustainable, too. Learn how good food can taste again - when you don't microwave the life out of it. And when you do need to eat on the run - try bringing a lunch box from home, or stopping at a local restaurant that supports sustainable practices/foods. Elevation Burger and Start are 2 "fast food" places that come to mind in Dallas. Check them out. We need to support these kinds of places if we want more of them around.

We can have better food - legally labeled or not. We just have to demand it - and the farmers will grow it. They're smart people - they're business people.  They'll grow what pays their bills. Organic food isn't as easy to grow sometimes so yes, it’s a bit more expensive – especially if you buy it in a box already made. But if you start with basic ingredients, it has been proven over and over again, that cooking organic meals from scratch, in season and shopping locally grown foods – and growing some of your own, can be done on a very small budget. 

If you can’t find time to grow a garden of your own, or physically can’t do it, but you have the means to support someone who does grow food, consider joining a CSA near you – or one that delivers near you. But let’s get off the fast food/processed food treadmill – in spite of Prop 37’s failed attempt at letting the masses know they’re eating food that has been tampered with.  If it’s not organically grown, and it comes in a box or package with an ingredients list as long as your arm, chances are there are genetically modified organisms in those ingredients.  It’s pretty simple.

Our government hasn’t seen clear yet to protect its citizens from the unknowns of GMO – there’s too much money out there, I suspect, supporting various campaigns, etc – which is a shame, really, but a reality just the same. 

But I believe it is ultimately up to each one of us to “buyer beware” – and protect ourselves.  I hope you can slow down a bit this winter and enjoy some real home cooking – from scratch – the way your great grandma HAD to do it – because there were no processed foods to speak of back then.  You’ll be glad you did.   

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Farmer Marie

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