If you think choosing the best food for yourself and your family is tough, try being poor. Put aside any thoughts you might have in your head about why the poor are poor and all the things you think they should be doing to better their situation, and just think for a minute about the day to day reality of getting food on your table if you live where most poor people live.
You will probably picture yourself in a city, on a block identical to the blocks around it, in apartment housing, a project or a single family home in need of repairs. There has not been a grocery store in your neighborhood in twenty years or more – the stores followed those with money when they moved to the suburbs in the 1970s. What you’ve got are liquor stores and corner stores, each stocked about as well as a suburban gas station might be with a few quarts of milk, some lunch meat and a selection of canned items and breakfast cereals, and an aisle of candy as long as the food aisle. Within a few blocks is a bus stop, but it’s not a line where a bus comes by every ten minutes, it comes once an hour. You are not likely to have a car, but maybe someone you know does. When it comes time to buy groceries, you can ride the bus (or more likely a couple of buses) to a real grocery store, or ride the metro, but either way, you can only buy what you can carry back yourself. All together, the trip may take you 3 or 4 hours. And you’re lucky to have brought back food for a week. And because American food policy rewards the overproduction of corn, the affordable things you can bring home are killing you, and the fresh fruits and vegetables are too expensive to buy enough to keep your family full for a week. (more…)
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In the days following the completion of my May 2010 Blogathon, I took a break from writing and immersed myself in reading. Now that I’ve devoured the last of Steig Larrson’s Millennium Trilogy (and learned to my surprise and heartbreak – and like always, way behind the curve - that Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts of all three books) I’m ready to delve back into a little food activist reading. Here’s my reading list for the next few weeks:
More than twenty years ago, when Italian Carlo Petrini learned that McDonald’s wanted to erect its golden arches next to the Spanish Steps in Rome, he developed an impassioned response: he helped found the Slow Food movement. Since then, Slow Food has become a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring the likes of Alice Waters and Michael Pollan. Now, it’s time to take the work of changing the way people grow, distribute, and consume food to a new level.On a global scale, as Petrini tells us in Terra Madre, we aren’t eating food. Food is eating us.Large-scale industrial agriculture has run rampant and penetrated every corner of the world. The price of food is fixed by the rules of the market, which have neither concern for quality nor respect for producers. People have been forced into standardized, unnatural diets, and aggressive, chemical-based agriculture is ravaging ecosystems from the Great Plains to the Kalahari. Food has been stripped of its meaning, reduced to a mere commodity, and its mass production is contributing to injustice all over the world.In Terra Madre, Petrini shows us a solution in the thousands of newly formed local alliances between food producers and food consumers. And he proposes expanding these alliances-connecting regional food communities around the world to promote good, clean, and fair food.The end goal is a world in which communities are entitled to food sovereignty-allowed to choose not only what they want to grow and eat, but also how they produce and distribute it. (more…)
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