It’s Sickening

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

Soren Kierkegaard

Apologies in advance, but today’s post is a rant post. We’ll aim for a happy ending though, I promise.

Earlier this week we had a lovely dinner at home. Dinner featured steaks, locally and humanely raised by friends of ours, and an assortment of vegetables straight from our garden.

That was it. Just real food made with real ingredients. Excepting the spices (sea salt and black pepper) and maybe a pat of butter, everything came from either our property or within just a few miles of us.

None of the ingredients in our meal needed to be shipped hundreds of miles to reach our plates. Nothing was picked weeks before it was ripe only to sit for weeks in transit or on the grocers’ shelves. Nothing needed additives or preservatives. And maybe most importantly, there were no ingredients that one would struggle to pronounce or spell.

Our entire ingredients list would read: Steak, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, beef tallow, onion, garlic, butter, black pepper, salt.

That’s it.

And not just for one item. No. That’s the list for the entire meal.

There’s not high fructose corn syrup. No maltodetrin. No trisodium phosphate. No BHT added to preserve freshness. No bioengineered food ingredients.

Just food. Real food from simple ingredients. Real food sourced locally.

Sounds great, right?

It was.

So why the rant?

Because, sadly, that’s nowhere near the norm. And also not where the future of food seems to be headed.

Take these three examples of just how wrong of a direction we are heading in today.

First, I’m reading Saying No to a Farm-Free Future: The Case For an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods by Chris Smaje. Smaje is a social scientist, farmer, and author whose writings focus on the intersections of farming, the environment, and politics.

In Saying No to a Farm-Free Future, Smaje focuses largely on a rebuttal of the assertions made in George Monbiot’s Regenisis. Monbiot champions a technology advanced food future where factory-produced food systems and reliance upon bioengineered/manufactured foods replaces the need for farms and rural agriculture.

One such techno-food solution already in development though seems right out of the 1973 dystopian classic, Soylent Green. The product, ironically called Solein protein, is created by a bacterium, Cupriavidus necator, inside a stainless-steel bioreactor. Fed hydrogen and oxygen, the bacterium multiply and produce a “protein-rich slurry of dead bacterial biomass, that, after treatment, is suitable for human consumption.”

Mmmm-MMM-Mmmm-Mmmm. Doesn’t that sound yummy?!

I wish this was science fiction. I really do. But companies are already pushing for regulatory approvals of this bacterial-biomass-food along with patents and trademarks for the same.

A second indicator that we’re moving too far away from real food is a blog shared this week by author, lecturer, and America’s most well known Lunatic Farmer, Joel Salatin.

Through his blog, Musings from The Lunatic Farmer, Joel shares that the USDA finally granted approval for kid favorite Lunchables to be served in school cafeterias. This comes after years of corporate pressure to tap into this massive untapped market and is a huge boon for Kraft Heinz brands. You can read Joel’s take on this here.

I don’t hate Lunchables. But I don’t see them as a substitute for a decent lunch. Three pasteurized prepared cheese product pizzas, a juice box, and a pack of Airheads candy hardly sounds like a healthy meal. Same for the few pieces of ultra-processed ham, crackers, cookie, and juice box of another popular favorite Lunchables box

Does that even come close to meeting the nutritional needs of growing children in a school environment? Why are we teaching our kids about balanced meal, but then feeding them this crap? Given the choice between a healthy fruit or vegetable option or the bright yellow box marketed at children, which one do we really think the majority of children will pick?

Make it fair at least. Give real food an equal marketing budget to match the efforts of the big-corporate Lunchables. Flood television, print, and social media with advertisements for real and local foods to at least give our kids a chance at picking a healthy lunch option.

Lunchables, like Soylent Green… oops, Solein protein, are a food-like product more than food itself.

And the third, and final, notion that has me ranting this week comes from the local farm front. A local, Northeast Ohio permaculture farm recently had to defend itself in court from the very township in which it is located.

Kelly’s Working Well Farm, located in Geauga County, was recently challenged by the Bainbridge Township Fire and Zoning as operating an illegal daycare. This is a shame as the non-profit working farm offers educational programming, summer camps, and a farm immersion home-school cooperative all under the agrotourism umbrella.

Still, the Township Council and Trustees opted to pursue a four year long course of action, costing thousands of tax payer dollars, and depriving this educational farm of thousands of dollars in revenue as well, to try and force a small local farm out of business.

Why are we criminalizing farms? Why is farm education not viewed as valuable? Where do we think the future of food will come from if not from the next generation being introduced to sustainable agriculture and farming practices?

Innovative farms and farm education programs such as those offered through Kelly’s Working Well Farm should be applauded. Opportunities for a more sustainable future and opportunities to connect to nature through vocational pursuits should be encouraged, not suppressed.

Unless of course, you just want to adopt the biomass sludge as the food of the future.

I promised to end on a positive note. So there is this one bit of hope I saw this week.

Kelly’s Working Well Farm prevailed! Thankfully, a Geauga County Common Pleas Court judge ruled in favor of Kelly’s Working Well Farm. The judge recognized the farm’s educational programs, services, and offerings as supported under the larger umbrella of agrotourism. Kelly’s Working Well Farm will continue to operate moving forward with their “More Than A Farm” vision.

You can read more about Kelly’s Working Well Farm and their recent legal battle here.

The proposed future of food is sickening. And our failing food system is sickening us all. Sickening us to the tune of $4.3 trillion dollars alone in the healthcare industry.

But there is a cure.

Demand real food.

2 responses to “It’s Sickening”

  1. That’s just despicable with what they did to Kelly’s Working Well Farm, but sadly the little farmers everywhere are getting treated as the bad guys. It’s the same as when people grow veggies in their yard, instead of grass, and the HOA of their towns deems it ‘not fit for a lawn’. They then make them tear it out just to have a freshly manicured lawn that does nothing but grow so it can be cut once a week…
    I agree with you on the food aspect too, my fiancé and I don’t yet have a property of our own to grow food on, but as consumers, we are making the effort to look at the labels of the food we get at the store, and we try not to buy food with ingredients we can’t pronounce. We also try to take advantage of the local farmers market to get fresh fruits and honey from local farmers rather than the store. There is only so much we can do as consumers. But if we are buying foods with real ingredients in them, and looking into the companies we buy from, we can show the market teams what we want from them as far as food standards go. If we aren’t buying their products, they will find out why and fix themselves to form to what we want. We just need a higher number of people doing this as well.
    Great job on making a meal from things on your property, it sounds like it was delicious! And sorry for a long comment, but I felt like I needed to rant right along with you on this subject, it’s one I feel very passionate about. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    • We couldn’t agree more! Your approach to buying real food is just what is needed to make a change. Corporations and big ag will have to listen if more and more people speak up. It’s the rain drop effect…one drop in the bucket is not enough to overflow it but several thousand drops can tip it over!

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