Monday, August 28, 2006

Very Interesting Articles on Food

While I'm pretty turned off at some of the Nation's politics these days, I found a really wonderful set of articles on food in the current issue. Especially interesting: One Thing to Do About Food: A Forum. The editor of this set of short pieces is Alice Waters. Contributors: Eric Schlosser, Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, Wendell Berry, Troy Duster, Elizabeth Ransom, Winona LaDuke, Peter Singer, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Carlo Petrini, Eliot Coleman, and Jim Hightower.

All the writers, I would say, agree with Eric Schlosser's statement: "Once you learn how our modern industrial food system has transformed what most Americans eat, you become highly motivated to eat something else."

At one time, I would have considered the following extreme, but now I don't: "Food is destiny, all right; every decision we make about food has personal and global repercussions. By now it is generally conceded that the food we eat could actually be making us sick, but we still haven't acknowledged the full consequences--environmental, political, cultural, social and ethical--of our national diet." So writes Alice Waters in her piece called Slow Food Nation.

And from a more global perspective: "Humanity has eaten more than 80,000 plant species through its evolution. More than 3,000 have been used consistently. However, we now rely on just eight crops to provide 75 percent of the world's food. With genetic engineering, production has narrowed to three crops: corn, soya, canola. Monocultures are destroying biodiversity, our health and the quality and diversity of food." So writes Dr. Vandana Shiva in the Forum.

All this has great resonance with The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, who is also a contributor to the Nation's Forum. Pollan's book provides meticulous detail about where our food comes from: a strictly artisan's organic meal, a Whole Foods more mass produced organic meal, and a mainstream meal from MacD's. The Nation article on the unfortunate labor practices of big organic farms in California adds another dimension to what I learned from Pollan. (See Felicia Mello's article titled Hard Labor.)

Several other articles on the global food situation are also worth reading, including one by Frances Moore Lappé. So check out this week's issue of

The Nation