Sunday, August 28, 2011

Politics at the Dinner Table

Like it or not, food is political.

Even if we deliberately refrain from talking politics for civility's sake, what we choose to eat can perhaps be more telling of our participation in government than what boxes we check on election day:  Fast food or home-cooked? Steak or salad? Regular or diet? Raw or pasteurized? Conventional or organic? Gluten-free or not? Genetically modified or pure nature? Food from a box or from a local family farm?

Some of us ask ourselves these types of questions every day, some of us are already sturdy in the answers we've found, and yet others of us are only maybe peripherally aware that anyone is asking questions of this nature at all. Educating ourselves on issues like these can be a slow and sometimes painful process, but as with political candidates, the more we learn, the better our decisions become. The subtle similarities and differences among our options begin to reveal themselves as we move from general questions to more specific inquiries. Suddenly, what had been a choice between regular soda or diet soda becomes a decision to abstain from consuming Coke or Pepsi-type products altogether. Raw milk drinkers don't seem as insane as the TV news people would like us to think. The word Monsanto begins to conjure a negative emotional reaction. Still, some issues remain as much a mystery to us as the origin of our favorite grocery store item... What are the ingredients on the label, for example, and how do I even begin to pronounce them, let alone call any of it food? Where does my food come from? Who decides what is safe to eat? Who pays those people's salaries? Who are my food choices benefitting? Who makes money if not my local farmer? Why am I always tired? Why don't I feel healthier more often? What does 'genetically modified organism' (GMO) mean, and what are its consequences?

An acquaintance of mine came into my workplace the other day eating an apple. When I asked him whether it was a "GMO apple", he shrugged, gave it a good polish with his sleeve, said "Not now," and then took another bite. He was making light of things and made me laugh too, but this is a good example of just how ignorant we can be, even as we silently consent to allowing others to make decisions for us every day - decisions which dramatically impact our individual health and longevity, as well as that of our families. If we want more of a say in those decisions, then we need to start by asking some of these important questions.

And more of us are doing just that, in light of the recent raid on Rawesome Foods in Venice. The private food club has been closed for a month and its members forced to find alternate means and methods of getting the nutrient dense, enzyme rich Raw foods on which they've come to depend for optimal health. In my case, the foods distributed at Rawesome - the highest quality Raw dairy, fresh meats, eggs, produce and even locally made salads and desserts - have been helping in my journey to heal from diabetes. Rawesome was essentially my pharmacy, and now that it's closed, finding the medicine I require is, shall we say, more complicated.

The experience certainly has been a catalyst for me in many respects. At the same time I'm growing closer to many folks within the Raw community - both locally and globally - I'm forced to be more creative and involved in how I locate and prepare my own foods. It seems like a great time to learn to make my own yogurt from Raw milk, for example - to sprout my own hummus, to plant my own garden, to ferment my own kombucha, to expand my own list of recipes beyond the smoothies and Raw cinnamon honey butter I've been enjoying from the privacy of my kitchen.

It also seems like the most appropriate time for me - for all of us - to become better educated as to the political and so-called 'legal' reasons behind this government attack on our rights to choose healthful foods from a private buying club. Rawesome will rise again, but in the meantime and for long after it does, we must demand a very public, open dialogue on these fundamental issues - a dialogue that transcends even the language we use to have it.

Like "democrat" or "republican", we've developed labels within our 'foodal system' which we think make it easy to distinguish our friends from our enemies. These days, words like "vegetarian" and "vegan" can almost emote an "if you're not with us, then you're against us" kind of attitude. To be clear, I am not talking here about the people themselves, but terms used to describe a lifestyle. Such words can seem so loaded with moral and societal implications that even just declaring one's self to be [insert alternative food lifestyle label] can have the same effect on unsuspecting passersby as threatening them at gun point. And it is here we must be careful.

It's true the subject of food is potentially every bit as personal and explosive as politics. Extremists may be present on all sides, but it is within our power to rise above the traditional two-party system. Especially as the 2012 elections draw near, it may be wise for many of us to rethink our past persuasions. If the current government We the People have hired is no longer working in favor of our rights, then perhaps we should be looking for who or what does. And as we take our next bite of whatever is on our fork at Grandma's dinner table, maybe we'll finally begin to ask ourselves just how much crap we're willing to swallow.

No doubt, John Galt enjoys his meals in peace... I don't suppose anyone out there knows the way to his co-op in Atlantis?


  1. I relate to most of your Story-- except for the diabetes part. I'm almost 60. My dad started on oral diabetes meds in his early 40s, and became insulin-dependent in his mid 50s. So far, my blood glucose has been "normal" -- possibly the only thing about me that is... but that's another story.

    We may not have the same food preferences--but that's OK. I completely support your right to research, purchase, and consume those foods that you determine are best to restore and maintain vibrant health for you and your family. I don't think you're weird for doing so, either.

    Best of luck to you!

  2. Thanks very much for your thoughts and your support, Robert. They are so appreciated!! Please chime in any time. I enjoy the feedback... Health, happiness, luck and longevity to your and your family!!

  3. What I would like is a LIST of all Gov officials that are For or Against GMO's. If I had a list it would be how I would vote & I don't care about "parties" at all. *sigh*


  4. Funny you say that, Lisa. I've been telling people for a while now that, instead of candidate's names, all I want to see on a ballot is their list of corporate donors. I think that would tell me everything I need to know... Of course, it might mean I end up not voting at all. :op