On eating local food

So, I sort of made a dumb deal with myself in which I would participate in NaBloPoMo to keep my writerly juices flowing (because the flood of freelance work and academic writing isn’t enough?!). Mostly I wanted to goose my blog writing because I have a bunch of ideas but haven’t taken the time to write any of them down here.

So, a day late (maybe I’ll extend this to Dec. 1 to compensate for missing yesterday), here we go. First order of business: I read this Opinionator blog by Mark Bittman yesterday and nodded to myself, all, “yep, totally. Agree 100%.” And then, this morning, he mentioned on Twitter that the conversation on the entry was being dominated by Big Food apologists and bratty Americans who didn’t want to give up their Chilean berries, so I decided to post this comment:

I buy local food as much as possible because I care about the environment, because I want to help support and foster local farms and farmers, because I want to know that my food has been handled safely and responsibly (and in the case of animals, grass-fed and raised and slaughtered humanely). I want to eat food that tastes like what it’s supposed to taste like and hasn’t been fiddled with in some laboratory somewhere along the way. I buy local food because I don’t want a penny of my money going to Monsanto. I buy local food because I don’t want to be part of the homogeneous Big Food/industrial agriculture system. I buy local food because the stakes of the Big Food companies are to make as much money as possible, while the stakes for local farmers involve their families, communities, and ecosystems. Want to occupy Wall Street? Buy local food.

Bittman is right to point out that the Farm Bill and its concomitant corn subsidies are among the roots of the problem with our food system today. Some may argue that people can’t afford to buy local food, which is true, but the corn subsidies have done so much damage to our food supply, our environment, and our health (and if you don’t think that Occupy Wall Street has anything to do with your $2 meal combo, you haven’t been paying attention) that we MUST take action. ConAgra actively lobbies to keep the corn subsidies in play because that’s what benefits its bottom line. Which is more important: taking care of our bodies, our ecosystems, and our communities by incorporating as much local food as we can into our diets, or perpetuating the stranglehold corporations have on every aspect of our lives while they make money off our increasingly fat asses?

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