Food is not food is not food is not food. Anymore. Food is money, or more specifically, feeding is money. I live in a place with profound resources, brilliance, innovation, and industry. I live in a place where food has been messed up, profoundly.
Food became a pipeline to profit. The end. But wait, we are the pipe. And yet somehow, we no longer have a say. Before I go any further–I am not anti-ag. I am not anti-farmer. I am not anti-innovation. I am not anti-whatever you might be able to contentiously accuse me of being. I am actually pro all of those things. Well, OK, I AM anti-manipulative corporate asshole who has mucked up our food beyond recognition.
Again, not a new topic. Well studied. Well covered. Yet, I am compelled to just put these feelings right here, into what is hopefully an easily digestible concept. Food is not food anymore. My preferred diet, deprived of chemicals and unfood, is NOT A SPECIAL NEEDS DIET. It is how we all deserve to eat.
Many of us have bowel, immune, and metabolic conditions. To be succinct I’ll just stop there, but know the whole body is affected by our food industry. Many of us are more sensitive, anxious, and agitated than could be considered “ordinary.” Yes, that is because we have a new ordinary, and it looks like highly pathologized people, with no identifiable culprit, diagnosis, or substantiating medical findings.
Vague medical terms. Accusations of psychopathology. Some correlation between trauma and stress, and a vague milleu of biophysical chaos, but never definitively so. Endless argumentation and study/counterstudy/validate/invalidate money flying free from our collective coffers.
And then there is the market. To find food, real food, in the midst of what fills our markets, is to find the Holy Grail itself. Then, once you have comprehensively numbed your mind by systematically hacking through the jungle of meaningless yet enticing marketing terminology, flavor enhancers, and mouth-feel additives (yes, this is a thing), the real food has now been elevated to elite status and you have to pay MORE for it.
Real food is now a novelty. Let’s just suck on that for a minute.
Here’s the thing. The manipulation does not stop there. You have to stare, long and hard at that “real food” and wonder, what was it put through to land in front of you? What was it sprayed with, painted with, dipped in, or fumigated by? What color was it really? No, really.
If that food is meat, well then we are regally screwed. Panic ensues. Did it come from China, Thailand, or another lovely place that is perfectly lovely, yet not where I want my food to come from? Was it fed real food, or was it fed its own shit or the shit of another animal? Was it cared for, given enough water, and could it even walk while it was alive? Can I say, definitively that it was not miserable, depressed, or absolutely panicked every single day of its life?
I do not need my food to be elite. I do not need it to be special. I do not need it to cost more, so I feel better about myself. I do not need it to look a certain and plucky color of orange so I am tricked into consuming more of it and faster.
I need to know that my food is food. That it is not a manipulation. That it has not been adulterated to be a non-food for longer shelf life, creamier mouth feel, or someone else’s competitive edge. I need to know that the persons who produced my food know that I do not want to fill the bodies of my children, pets, and friends with something that suffered to breathe in its own shit before I went to the store with a warm heart and money in my pocket.
And I am tired. I am tired of explaining to my kids that we live in a world where just plain old simple food, in all its boring splendor, is what will help us to live longer and better (generally) than the exciting and additive filled crap that is covered in things that catch their sweet little eyes.
I am tired of explaining to them, “well, guys, we just eat food from the earth here, and that’s that,” and then panicking in the next breath and adding, “and if I ever hear you talking down about someone else’s food in the cafeteria, and telling them their food is not real food, you will have a talk with me you will not enjoy.”
What IS it that I want, you may ask? I want everyone, everywhere, to be able to afford food that is just food. I desperately want things like flaming hot cheetos to vanish, as if they were never here in the first place. (Apologies to my husband, but honey, haters gotta hate.) I want my friends, who are farmers, and ranchers, to be unshackled from the insidious labyrinth of barriers they must hurdle in order to make real food happen.
And I want to give them all my food money. Yes, I do. I live in a little fantasy world, where I believe these things are possible. I am aware this reality is far off in the distance, and I am not hopeful we’ll get there quickly. I am sad, often, about these truths, even as we make more progress toward that goal every day.
I believe you want this too. In the meantime, don’t buy the crap. It does us all a disservice.