Considering our revolutionary beginnings as a nation, it’s kind of appalling how quickly we turn grassroots movements into Astroturf. Any idea that catches on like wildfire is pretty likely to become merchandised, franchised and sanitized until it’s ready for its close-up. But I have my fingers crossed for the Occupiers that they don’t get an ice cream flavor or cable channel. This is not only because the Slow Food, sustainable farming, local foodshed, food justice and environmental movements (my All-Star Team) have linked up with them, but then again maybe it is. It’s pretty exciting to me, this Big Idea that it is all one issue–that fixing the food problems is not peripheral or secondary or frivolous but fundamentally connected to everything that caused the eruption of frustration into action.
If you’d like to read something beautiful and motivating about the very simple things you can do right now to start your own ripple of action, go see Alana. She nails it.
My own ripple started this morning in the freezer. Lately, I find that I am unable to go to the grocery store without sliding into a funk. WhatIsThePointWhyBotherTryingLookAtAllThisCrap is the constant refrain in my head, as I reach glumly for tired vegetables and dodge the leering eyes of the Lunchables and try not to stare menacingly into the cart of the person in front of me at the checkout counter.
But this morning I made a smoothie for my family, and as I pulled the berries out of the freezer I was transported, just for a moment, back in time to the hot, sweaty day I picked them with my children.
Last winter I thought I was being clever and I ordered a bulk bag of frozen organic strawberries, a financial savings over the tiny bags in the regular freezer case, and one that had the additional merit of inhabiting a single plastic bag instead of thirty little ones. But when the bag came it was stamped with its country of origin, and that country was China.
I am not going to mouth off about trade relations with China, or their scandalous lapses in food safety. I am just going to moan about the epic ridiculousness of shipping frozen food from there to here, and the nice little lie we can tell ourselves that buying organic is helping the world, and all the ways we ignore the costs incurred by our choices. OK, I’m done.
So last summer we picked our own strawberries, here, so we could feed our insatiable need for strawberry smoothies without the temptation to go back to that well. One afternoon’s work, and we enjoyed a long winter of restorative happiness. I forgot all about that in my grocery funk, but Alana’s voice and my hand in the freezer reminded me that the little actions we manage to take are not shouts in the wind, but the fuel and the fire both.
So it’s Occupy Food Day. Here is a little encouragement to do something, some little thing, today that connects your brain to your mouth, your heart to your stomach, your mind to the hands that brought the food to your family. Alana has a great list of actions in her post. Take special note of the encouragement to taste your food. Your food came from somewhere; chew on that.
Here are a few other trees to bark up:
First of all, if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention. Get some facts:
- Four corporations, led by Walmart, control more than half of grocery sales.
- Three companies — Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta — own 47 percent of the world’s seeds.
- Nearly every major commodity — wheat, corn, soy — is controlled by just four corporations.
- Just four corporations control more than 80 percent of all our meat supply.
- According to USDA statistics, America loses more than 17,000 farmers a year — one every half an hour.
Get your chin up off the desk! Little actions, big ripples.
Read good news and spread it.
Stop buying meat in a chain grocery store. This is the big kahuna on your grocery list. Don’t clutter your head with which megaproducers are better or anything like that; just don’t do it anymore. If dealing directly with a farmer is not practical for your life, then buy your meat somewhere that knows, understands and identifies its sources. Not sure what the terms all mean? Learn what questions to ask. A lot of meat eating depends on not making the mental connection to its source (“pork” sounds better than “piggy”) but if you are going to change one thing only, this is the place to start. Fish? Go here.
Renew your vows with your reusable bags, cups, containers and water bottles. You don’t need to buy fancy new ones, unless their sex appeal is what will make you actually use them. Shying away from packaging breeds billowing feelings of liberation and mightiness, especially bottled water and disposable coffee cups. Science. It’s a fact. Don’t bother looking it up, just trust me.
When you have taken some revolutionary action, whatever its magnitude, reward yourself with a cool drink. Oh, and mark that berry-picking day on your calendar now so you don’t forget.
dessert for breakfast
1 c milk
1 tender-ripe pear, peeled and chunked
1 c frozen strawberries
1 tsp honey
dash of vanilla
Blend, baby, blend.