Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BIG Questions... with MY Answer, so far

So while I am home sick (again!) today, I am thinking about lots of food conversations I had at work yesterday and over the remainder of my weekend (well, as much as one can think about things after waking up at 2pm!). Lots of information has been shared, lots of questions have been asked and in the process both my curiosity and skepticism have been piqued again... One thing keeps itching at me and clawing at me: being healthy and eating is becoming a pretty popular topic in this country as of late and because of that some "healthy" food options are becoming more readily available to the public as a whole. You may be asking, "Nicole, what is wrong with that?" and, at first, I would have said, "Nothing, that's great," but as I said, my inner skeptic has been wakened.

An example: bison meat/bison burgers. My husband LOVES burgers, I mean really, loves them and will order them anywhere. In fact, one of the signs to me that he was truly growing as a person was the first time the two of us went on a date, there was a burger on the menu, and he opted to order something else - it was a big deal for him. Anyway, while they are not always his first choice, they are still one of his comfort foods, so when he learned he had a high cholesterol, he was a little upset... until he read about bison burgers. He tried them, liked them, and has been happy with his substitution. Here is what, unprompted by any conversations of my recent skepticisms, my husband said to me last night, "You know bison burger? Well, I can get that just about anywhere now - health food restaurants, but also diners - all types of restaurants have it on their menus. Do you think that bison are getting treated like the other cattle because they are so popular?" And I thought... that's a really good damn question.

To piggyback this statement - what about soy? Not only has it always been a mainstay in the litany of ingredients on the sides of many of our packaged foods, but now it has been lauded as the key to the health and longevity of those in the Orient. We heard the stories, we wanted to try soy for ourselves, now it is everywhere - soy milks, soy ice creams, tofu, soy nuts, edamame I am sure the list goes on. Was it this level of demand that allowed/allows the GMO (Genetically Modified Organism http://www.ebfarm.com/WhyOrganic/library/Glossary.aspx#G_glossary) to continue to be processed?

So, the big questions these ideas (and others) keep swirling in my head:
  • how do you know when your "healthy" food has taken an unnatural turn?
  • who can you trust to ask about how to use your purchasing power as what I like to call a "capitalist vote" by BUYING the right kinds of products? AND
  • (scary question) when does the "capitalist vote" actually work against progress by making demand so high on the right product that a BIG business comes in, buys it up, takes it over and tries to ruin it?
I am thinking, still, that my one true power remains in going to a family farm to buy my products. In this way I am using my capitalist vote ($$$) to support not only a product, but a system.

If you have any other ideas, I would love to hear/read them!

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