Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eating ourselves (and the planet) to death

As cheap food has proliferated (i.e., junk food), obesity has increased, overall health decreased, and the environment suffers. That is not news to anyone, and no one who is informed and "in their right mind" would deny it. The god of cheapness is a lie, but it is an idol far too many choose to worship.

Today the Toronto Star published part 1 of a 3-part series ... Where We Grow Our Junk Food. The significance of this piece is not just its content, but also the incredible writing itself. It is so well structured, with clarity of writing that I asked myself, "Who is Margaret Webb?" It turns out Margaret Webb has impressive credentials (the photo is NOT from the farm outside Barrie where she grew up ... there are no mountains near Barrie ... Blue Mountain is more like "Blue Bump"!) and no doubt seeking out more of her work will be rewarding.

Growing up in the US Midwest where corn and beans are king, I am all to familiar with the denial that exists when vested interests are confronted with the disaster of cheap food. Not only do the agribusiness royalty not cotton to having their empires threatened, but the spin-off economies are substantial. Of course, a sane food policy would be even better for the everyone, but who can envision that when they were blinkers?

I have two nephews on my wife's side, one of whom is really, really angry, mostly about the state of the world. His Facebook wall is covered with anti-government, anti-authority, anti-Obama rants. While I could discuss contrary views with him, it struck me that what is really important is the anger itself ... and that instinctively he knows that the system is really screwed up ... the whole agribusiness/cheap food/advertising conglomerate is one of the subsystems that is killing people and putting our future at risk. What is unfortunate is that like a lot of people of his age (18-ish), he has not had the rearing and training to handle the anger itself, to translate the anger into positive energy. I don't blame him for that.

Perhaps this type of well-written piece can help provide a foundation for action for him and others.

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