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What better day than Thanksgiving to celebrate our country’s food rebels! I’m talking about the growing movement of small farmers, food artisans, local retailers, co-ops, community organizers, restaurateurs, environmentalists, consumers, and others – perhaps including you. This movement has spread the rich ideas of sustainability, organic, local economies, and the Common Good from the fringe of our food economy into the mainstream.
It began as an “upchuck rebellion” – ordinary folks rejecting the industrialized, chemicalized, corporatized, and globalized food system. Farmers wanted a more natural connection to the good earth that they were working. Meanwhile, consumers began seeking edibles that were not saturated with pesticides, injected with antibiotics, ripened with chemicals, dosed with artificial flavorings, and otherwise tortured.
These two interests began to find each other and to create an alternative way of thinking about food. Today, more than 16,500 organic farmers produce everything from wheat to meat, and organic sales top nearly $35 billion a year. Some 8,000 vibrant farmers markets operate in practically every city and town across the land, linking farmers and food makers directly to consumers in a local, supportive economy. Restaurants, supermarkets, food wholesalers, and school districts are now buying foodstuffs that are produced sustainably and locally.
This shift did not come from corporate or governmental powers – it percolated up from the grassroots. And it’s spreading, as ordinary people inform themselves, organize locally, and assert their own democratic values over those of the corporate structure.
Family by family, town by town, this good food movement has changed not only the market, but also the culture of food. As you, your family, and friends sit down for a good meal this Thanksgiving, celebrate this change, which is truly worthy of our thanks.
Organic farms still in the minority,” www.agriview.com, May 28, 2014
Buy local beer, books… and why not seafood?
In case you don’t have enough to worry about, consider “early mortality syndrome.”
Sounds gruesomely lethal, doesn’t it? Luckily, this is not a human disease, nor has it struck America – but it affects us anyway. EMS is a new bacterial outbreak that’s been devastating Thailand’s shrimp farming industry. Three troubling points: Shrimp is by far America’s most consumed seafood, the vast majority of it comes from foreign waters, and Thailand supplies most of that.
To combat the disease, Thailand’s shrimp farms have been dumping untold volumes of antibiotics into their ponds – so we’re consuming the antibiotics that the imported shrimp consumed. But you might assume that, surely, our government inspects those boatloads of frozen crustaceans and rejects those too tainted to eat. Well… sort of… barely… not really. Remember, corporate lobbyists and screeching anti-government politicos don’t like government regulation, so less than one-half of one percent of the tons of foreign-produced shrimp coming into the US is inspected.
Fishier yet, even though our country is blessed to have three huge and abundant oceans around us, 90 percent of the seafood we eat comes from abroad. And less than two percent of that ridiculous volume gets inspected. Indeed, that serving of imported seafood on your plate has traveled an average of 5,475 miles to reach you. And a third of the wild seafood we import has a most unappetizing acronym attached to it: IUU – or Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated.
Meanwhile, America’s fishing families are being left out and shortchanged in our own market. Just as we’ve done with beer, books, and broccoli America needs a locavore movement to enrich environmental and human health with local, sustainable seafood.
For more information contact Institute for Fisheries Resources at www.ifrfish.org.
U.S. should catch its own seafood,” Austin American Statesman, July 22, 2014.
Synthetic food: Our future doesn’t taste good
Armed with hefty grants from the Pentagon, squads of corporate and governmental food technologists are on a mission to supplant nature with a great leap forward in the Brave New World of synthetic foodstuffs.
Not satisfied merely to tinker with genetic re-engineering of nature’s products, these mad scientists have a God-like goal of “creating” new food (assuming that God is a supernatural robotic being with a wicked sense of humor and not enough real work to do). Who will eat the stuff? Soldiers are to be the first lucky consumers.
Lauren Oleksyk, team leader of this operation at the US Army’s Natick Soldier Research Center, explains that battleground troops will be outfitted head to toe with electronic sensors that’ll constantly monitor their essential bio chemical levels, sending info about any imbalances to computer software attached to a 3-D printer, which will be a part of each individual soldier’s field gear. Low on potassium? No problem – “We envision to have a 3-D printer that is interfaced with the soldier,” says Oleksyk. “Then they would be able to have either powdered or liquid matrices [printed out] on demand that they can take and eat immediately to fill that need.”
Yes, a potassium patty! It’s synthesized on the spot from various oils and powders and “printed out” as a sort of food-like edible. Yum! Well, not really, for taste and texture are still futuristic concepts. But still, instantly-printed food is upon us, an ungodly high-tech hallelujah moment.
These tech deities are targeting soldiers first… but then us. With world population exploding and climate change endangering old-fashioned agriculture, they say that printed-out nutrition is our future. As one of the corporate engineers rather ominously put it: “We eventually have to change our perception of what food is.”
“Would You Eat a Pizza That Came Out of a Printer?” www.alternet.org, November 6, 2014.
“Army Eyes 3-D Printed Food For Soldiers,” www.npr.org, November 4, 2014.