Tuesday, May 4, 2010

News From The Brink

Be honest. Do you ever think that America is on the brink of a massive, food-related calamity? When I think about our food system, I am aware of the real food movement, slow food, pasture-based, 100-mile diet, etc. These are good things. But when I broaden my focus to include the wider view, I am… horrified. Honestly, I think that’s the best word for how I feel about it when I actually stop to think about where we are. My solution (read: my attempt to do something and hopefully avoid losing my mind) is to share with others my concerns, and hope that eventually enough of us will share the same concerns to be able to force change. In some ways, I can see how we are taking a step forward. In other ways, it looks like two steps back.

Today, I want to share with you some of what I read this morning. The three articles referenced here represent that step forward and the two steps back.

First up… This article by ClizBiz, which I found over at Blogher, is an interview with Carrie Balkcom, executive director of the American Grassfed Association. I learned about the AGA’s new (?) symbol that its certified producers can use to label their products. I haven’t seen this symbol in a store in my area (yet?). But I hope I do, because it indicates adherence to production standards that are superior to those that follow the USDA definition of “grassfed.” Take a look, so you’ll know what you’re seeing if products labeled with this symbol show up near you.

Next, we move on to the category that leaves me wondering why there is no Darwin Award equivalent for corporations. There really should be. Perhaps we should start one. But what would we call it? The Species Suicide Award? Think on that while you read these gems…

 We take our first step backward with this article by William Neuman and Andrew Pollack at the New York Times. The authors introduce us to Eddie Anderson, a Tennessee farmer who has been strictly no-till for 15 years. Until now. This year, Anderson is plowing one-third of his land because of Roundup-resistant pigweed, which is so tenacious and sturdy that it damages harvesting equipment. And that’s in addition to growing three inches a day, reaching seven feet or more in height, and shading out crops. You can see Mr. Anderson’s problem. Thanks, Monsanto. Zombie pigweed. Niiiice.

And now, the latest rendition of greed-in-a-can. This article by Amy Gates is another one I picked up at Blogher. I have Gates to thank for introducing me to Mead-Johnson’s new Enfagrow Premium Chocolate Toddler Formula. That’s chocolate toddler formula for children ages 12 to 36 months. You know, the ages when children are supposed to be learning to eat whole foods. I know, you’re thinking “girl, I don’t even need to read that- I’ve heard enough,” but you’re wrong! Go read it, and be enlightened. Everybody should know just how low our boat is sinking.

Then come back here and let me know who you nominate for the award.


  1. Mommy, I'm scared. Can I sleep in your bed tonight?

  2. I agree, I almost don't want to read about stuff any more. I'm reading Organic Manifesto and realizing that chemicals are EVERYWHERE. Makes me think we're already doomed so why even bother buying organic . . . it's just a drop in the bucket. Oh well maybe the solution is later in the book ;-)

  3. Local Cook, I totally get that. I feel the same way sometimes. But I refuse to sit quietly by and passively allow myself to continue being victimized by these companies, and indeed, my government. I refuse to hand over my right to healthy food on a platter of apathy. And I hope that by encouraging one another to keep going, we can make a difference.

  4. There is definitely a battle going on, and it seems to be about controlling people, their lives, and their money. Everybody has to eat, so food is one of the major battle grounds. Monsanto wants to control the food supply, then, if everyone is in poor health due to poor diet, then the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies stand to make a whole lot of money. It seems to me that these folks have our government in their pocket. All of this is why I have a sense of urgency about our homesteading. Keep sounding the trumpet Maggie.

  5. Thanks, Leigh! It's funny how the mind makes connections sometimes. Your comments here have just entwined themselves with something else I just read, and a class I had last semester, and given me an idea for a new post.

  6. Monsanto is one scary company. The things they do are just frightening. I think, though, that chocolate formula is the winner of the scary awards. Really? Parents would seriously buy that? Around here the county board of supervisors just voted to ban toys in fast food meals that don't meet certain nutritional requirements. Too bad it takes a government to try and do what parents should be doing on their own. Keep pounding that drum!

  7. I think everybody needs to simplify a bit more. Here in New Zealand, most of us still eat meat and 3 vegetables for dinner every night, and I would say 80% of people I know make their own lunch. Not so much of the over processed stuff.

    Our beef and lamb usually grow free range, no feed lots here although the way we raise pigs and chickens is shameful and most people I know try and buy free range.

    I watched Food Inc on dvd recently - scary stuff.

    Julie Q