i decided to treat myself to a subscription to the sunday new york times, and my decision was duly rewarded when i saw the front page of the last edition. the story is of a women who is now paralyzed and has serious kidney problems after eating one frozen hamburger. check out the whole story here at the nyt website.
not only is this unfortunate happenstance for this young woman, it also reminds all of us (vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, omnivores, etc) that our food system is not safe in its current manifestation. each of us needs to be aware of the present model of food production and we need to make ongoing, conscious decisions about whether or not we want to partake in a system that is inherently flawed. massive feedlots and enormous corporate slaughterhouses are not producing quality products, and yet these companies are continually fighting for the right to maintain these operations- and they are winning. this excellent article explains (with charts and all) how one hamburger can contain meat and fat from multiple animals from different slaughterhouses, even different countries. not only is this model unhealthy for humans, it is unsustainable for the planet.
i am not going to argue for vegetarianism or veganism as the key to save everything, but instead encourage everyone to make conscious decisions about your foods; learn about the giant companies that admit they are too big to monitor food safety, read up on how the corn and soy subsidies discourage farmers from growing quality fruits and veggies (or ranching sustainably) to instead make cornsyrup and GMO soybean oil to put into nearly every processed food in the stores. the food in the stores (which michael pollan describes as ‘edible food-like substances‘) is not meant to be healthy, despite the multiple shiny labels announcing that it has omegas or antioxidants or fiber or whole grains. this ‘food’ is meant to fill up space in our bodies, but not to really nourish our bodies. i know that is is often more convenient to eat foods from the grocery store or fastfood restaurants than to cook a whole food meal, and i certainly empathize with the parents or caregivers that have even more responsibilities than i as a single lady have. however, by knowing about what we are eating (and not eating) we are fighting the food system that does produces inferior and unhealthy foods.
increasing our intake of whole food ingredients (rice, beans, veggies, grains, organic eggs or dairy, pasture-raised animals) and decreasing our intake of processed foods (fastfood, cereals, sauces and syrups, soda! ick, my goodness, please give up soda!) is simply better for our bodies, better for the planet, and better for the market. by increasing our consumption of whole foods we are creating a demand for ever more whole foods, and demonstrating that we will not eat food that is produced cheaply and thoughtlessly from massive companies more interested in making money than making us healthy.