–by Kelly Sanderbeck, Annual Fund Manager & Story Catcher
In an era of recession and wars, with struggles near and far, is it any wonder we look for, and crave, a bit of good news? So it’s welcome to hear that Americans are eating more fresh foods and willing to pay for them, even if new research shows that healthy food really isn’t more expensive. In fact, people’s food dollar choices continue to shift, as growth in the organic food sector outpaces conventional “ 9.5% versus 4.7% last year — and data gathered from public sources illustrates that locavorism is on the rise. This comes as another “study” shows that those who choose organic tend to become “rude and selfish”. If you bristle at that ridiculous assertion, you won’t want to miss Grist’s hilarious rebuttle.
Also in the news this month:
- Television seems to have taken a cue from growing public interest, moving beyond celebrity chefs into the food politics realm. One program, launched by PBS, Food Forward: Let’s eat. Right. Now., is about people who are changing the food industry in America.
- Meanwhile the effort to reduce sugar, salt and fat in children’s foods faced challenges by the food industry and its millions of dollars in lobbying efforts. They continue to ‘regulate themselves’ while Congress and the White House remain silent, even though childhood obesity has increased 3-fold in the last 30 years and costs the country $100 billion annually.
- A constant striving for balance comes through in a recent Wendell Berry profile, along with his philosophy that “If you imitate nature, you’ll use the land wisely.”
- We all want safe food, especially considering the recently-revealed barely-food-stuff pink slime, but at the expense of wildlife?
- Time will tell if consumers will win the right to get GMO food labeled, as a first-in-the-nation vote comes to the people of California. The public will have to decide whether to employ the use of the precautionary principle or whether they will be convinced of that old oft-disproved idea that we have to choose between feeding the world or environmental sustainability.
- Harvard professor Michael Sandel addresses money and morality in What Money Can’t Buy: The Morals Limits of the Markets. He says, “Market values can crowd out important nonmarket values worth caring about, especially when market thinking reaches into spheres of life that are traditionally governed by other values “ such as personal relations, family life, health, education, citizenship, civic life, our relation to the environment, and so on.”
Food is our closest connection to nature and the greatest employer on Earth, so valuing it properly represents our best hope of leading perpetuating, worthwhile, meaningful lives. Best of all, since food is our most reliable source of joy, we may as well follow Epicurus’ advice and take pleasure in all it brings. By prizing food as a substance and a metaphor we can build the foundations of a good life. If that sounds idealistic it is because ‘sit’opia, in its ideal form, is utopia.
–Carolyn Steel, Ode Magazine, May/June 2012