Friday, April 18, 2008

Veggies, Or How I Don't Give Up Trying To Inspire People To Think About Food.


I usually do not buy anything at Toronto's Hazelton Lanes Whole Foods Store. I find that location insanely expensive but I went in the other day to compare prices to Chicago Whole foods. Two years ago The New York Times had written an article the Whole Foods had pledged to compete with grocery store prices and I wanted to see if this had affected the Toronto store. No. But I like their veggie displays so I took some photos with my cell phone. I bought a couple of items but for the most part I shop at Noah's Foods on Bloor or The Big Carrot on Danforth...and now most grocery stores carry a wide range of organic products.

"Shopping at a Whole Foods Market in suburban Chicago, Meredith Estes said food prices have jumped so much she has resorted to coupons. Charles T. Rodgers Jr., an Arkansas cattle rancher, said normal feed rations so expensive and scarce he is scrambling for alternatives. In Oregon, Jack Joyce, the owner of Rogue Ales, said the cost of barley malt has soared 88 percent this year.

For years, cheap food and feed were taken for granted in the United States.

But now the price of some foods is rising sharply, and from the corridors of Washington to the aisles of neighborhood supermarkets, a blame alert is under way.

Among the favorite targets is ethanol, especially for food manufacturers and livestock farmers who seethe at government mandates for ethanol production. The ethanol boom, they contend, is raising corn prices, driving up the cost of producing dairy products and meat, and causing farmers to plant so much corn as to crowd out other crops.

The results are working their way through the marketplace, in this view, with overall consumer grocery costs up roughly 5 percent in a year and feed costs up more than 20 percent." From New York Times

" 1) Cows see very little grass nowadays in their lives. They get them on corn as fast as they can, which speeds up their lifespan, gets them really fat, and allows you to slaughter them within 14 months.

2) The problem with this system, or one of the problems with this system, is that cows are not evolved to digest corn. It creates all sorts of problems for them. The rumen is designed for grass. And corn is just too rich, too starchy. So as soon as you introduce corn, the animal is liable to get sick.

3) It creates a whole [host] of changes to the animal. So you have to essentially teach them how to eat corn. You teach their bodies to adjust. And this is done in something called the backgrounding pen at the ranch, which is kind of the prep school for the feedlot. Here's where you teach them how to eat corn.

4) You start giving them antibiotics, because as soon as you give them corn, you've disturbed their digestion, and they're apt to get sick, so you then have to give them drugs. That's how you get in this whole cycle of drugs and meat. By feeding them what they're not equipped to eat well, we then go down this path of technological fixes, and the first is the antibiotics. Once they start eating the [corn], they're more vulnerable. They're stressed, so they're more vulnerable to all the different diseases cows get. But specifically they get bloat, which is just a horrible thing to happen. They stop ruminating. From Michael Pollan

"My remaining cause for hope is another consequence of the globalized modern world's interconnectedness. Past societies lacked archaeologists and television. While the Easter Islanders were busy deforesting the highlands of their overpopulated island for agricultural plantations of the 1400s, they had no way of knowing that, thousands of miles to the east and west at the same time, Greenland Norse society and the Khmer Empire were simultaneously in terminal decline, while the Anasazi had collapsed a few centuries earlier, Classic Maya society a few more centuries before that, and Mycenean Greece, 2,000 years before that. Today, though, we turn on our television sets or radios or pick up newspapers, and we see, hear, or read about what happened in Somalia or Afghanistan a few hours earlier. Our television documentaries and books show us in graphic detail why the Easter islanders, Classic Maya, and other past societies collapsed. Thus, we have the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of distant peoples and past peoples. That's an opportunity that no past society enjoyed to such a degree. My hope in writing this book has been that enough people will choose to profit from that opportunity to make a difference." From Collapse by Jared Diamond.

4 comments:

Janet said...

What kind of vegetable is that in the second picture down?

Candy Minx said...

Isn't it fabulous? My daughter and I were stunned when we saw them and spent a few minutes trying to find the sign identifying them...they are orange beets.

Wandering Coyote said...

I can get decent, semi-local Buffalo meat, so I've been purchasing it. I love it. Way better tasting and way leaner than beef.

I've become a huge coupon clipper since my days of piddly income-hood. There aren't as many out there as there used to be.

Candy Minx said...

Wandering Coyote, You know I love Buffalo meat...and you don't need to eat huge portions because it has so much protein in it. I think although being broke can totally seem like it sucks...it also opens us up to a new way of looking at how we live. I've been poor my whole life...but in many ways I don't even think about it and I tend to have really cool ideas of how to live and how to find ways around things....it's as if it opens up a whole world of creativity...you know that old adage "necessity is the mother of invention"....

I really believe the simple things in life are the best...hanging out with friends making art and daydreaming...

I think folks who are poor, who are homeless who maybe find themselves without out work...are often able to find a whole other world out there right next to the rat race...a secret world...