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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Commonplace Book - Oct 14th

Commonplace notes from The Real Food Revival

Chapter 1 ("Aisle 1 - The Produce Bins")

Discussing the industrial food industry's high valuation of uniformity in produce:

"But think snowflakes, autumn leaves. They're more similar than they are different, yet it is their differencets that we value. That's the way nature works. Unfortunately, being different is not a feature that industrial agriculture promotes...the resulting loss of diversity weakens the individual farm and dilutes the food supply."

"Genetic diversity is nature's defense mechanism against extinction."

"The varieties of fruits and vegetables grown commercially and available at the MegaMart are a small fraction of the diversity that was cultivated before the age of industrial agriculture."

This chapter has me contemplating the inumerable ways that modern life seems to offer us a myriad of choices, but really has limited the variety and diversity of life. Odd - in a culture and age so focused on individuality, there are really fewer and fewer ways to truly BE an individual. How high a premium does our entire culture put on uniformity?

So high that my Homeowners Association is actually considering dictating the types and colors of flowers that may be planted in the front yard. Never mind that our houses are all nearly identical to begin with!

So high that the only clothes you can buy are those chosen and offered by people who determine for us what we'll like.

So high that education has become nearly an industry in itself - complete with an assembly line of teachers and students. Lord help your child if he or she doesn't fit the assembly line components. He'll either be crammed in or have some piece "lopped off" to make him fit.

Oh...wait. This book is about food. Uh...yeah - back to that.

"No matter where in the United States you live, nine months out of the year most of the fruits and vegetables that you eat come from California.... Beyond the California season, the majority of our fruits and vegetables are imported.... It takes a lot of fuel to transport these out-of-season items to your area MegaMart."

"Perhaps the easiest and most pleasurable way to enjoy delicious, sustainable, seasonal eating is to buy local. Why?...because the net environtmental impact is less...and it will require fewer "freshness" enhancers...."

Of course that all goes for "organic" produce, too. In addition to the fuel issues, because of transport and storage times our food is less nutritious having been picked too early, artificially gassed to ripeness, and then stored in refrigerators. Also, "Organic" has become such a commodity that of course it is becoming industrialized and once that happens it is only a matter of time until "Organic" loses its meaning.

" ' industrial organic' - large operations that swap out toxic chemical inputs for less noxious ones, but still follow industrial practicies that ignore important environmental and social issues."

"It is more important to support a family-owned and -operated farm that honors the land and community but may not be certified organic than it is to purchase certified organic produce from halfway around the world."

"...take advantage of the lower prices that accompany the season' bounty, the freeze, can and dry everything you're able to...."

Next chapter: Aisle 2, The Meat Counter. Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS to receive my blog updates.