Did you know that if you shop at a farmers’ market you are considered a major player in the new “food movement?” Bryan Walsh declared that for all to read in Time magazine Feb. 15. Which, as you can imagine by now, really makes my teeth hurt. Now they’re telling us that if we choose to eat as most people in this world eat and have eaten for centuries — if we eat what comes out of or feeds off of the earth — we are doing something so radical that we are part of a movement! How did that happen?
Of course we know the answer to that, and we have lots of voices including Eric Schlosser, Alice Waters, Michael Pollan and all of those disgusting documentary movies reminding us that we need to change our ways and eat better to save ourselves and our planet. You and I know that, but how did such a sensible notion become a rallying cry for what that Time article described as “progressive change?” How did wanting to be as healthy as possible, to avoid doctor’s offices at minimal cost to ourselves and our society, and to make it easier for others to do that too become a political activity?
I have seen already in our own state that wedge politics are at work here; a theory is being trumpeted that environmentalists are the enemies of farmers. Another theory is that the “food movement” is competing with environmentalism — which would of course lead to a nearly logical conclusion that the food movement is an enemy of the farmer. Mr. Walsh and others are trying to see conflict and politics where none exists, and the politicians are trying to paint all of us into four corners so that we can come out fighting at the drop of a red, ripe tomato.
And all of this kind of discussion ignores the only real point here: It is not that we need to eat organic or vegetarian or sustainable foods, it’s that we just need to eat food. And I am guessing that even in your homes, there are items in your cupboards and your refrigerator that even 30 years ago would not have been called food because they had to be invented before we could eat them. Inventions are not food. It’s as simple as that. And when you take chemicals and create something to eat, you don’t end up with food. You end up with chemicals that look and maybe taste like food, but that doesn’t make them food.
I am just as angry, as most of you probably are, that we can’t seem to get food into our schools or that we have somehow been convinced as a nation that eating at the nearest fast-food joint saves anything. When we eat anything other than food, someone is going to pay. And boy can we see that happening now.
So please enjoy the food in all its variations at the farmers’ market — it may not make you free, but it will keep you healthy. And if that leads you to want to help others do the same thing, it might get you labeled as a progressive, but how can it be anything other than just common sense to promote food for life?
See you at the market!