If you are reading this blog, you most likely have done some research into the issues that currently plague the American food system. A person who starts with a concern over the chemical fertilizers and pesticides that our foods are grown with, might then learn of the hormones and antibiotics given to the animals we breed, after which they hear word of the genetic modification of organisms (GMOs), and finally end up panic stricken by the understanding of the harmful chemicals in the packaging that seep into our food. With this knowledge, how can we eat anything at all? Starting this last January, I began my own quest to eat right, or what some food advocates describe as “real food”, and found that while it can be trying, it’s more about finding the good in our food system than simply making a complicated diet with a list of foods you can’t eat.
There are certain books and that are just perfect for Food Studies. I am slowly making a list of ones that I think are essential for students interested in studying food. These books seem to come into my life just at the right time. My new companion, “Bringing it to the Table” by Wendell Berry, was love at first sight. After reading the first chapter “Nature as Measure”, Berry’s ideas started to connect the pieces in my life. In combination with my first garden project, it is helping me start a new relationship with Nature, education, work, mom, the women of my life.
Nature as my love
My love for productivity seems to be an addiction. Several people have told me that my lust to accomplish many things quickly and efficiently is a result of capitalistic culture. I often feel that I am behind in life and I need to study harder and experience more. I work hard just to work more. The demand for “more” is constantly going up, at the cost of quality and joy in my life and culture. As an American, I notice the effort to produce and buy more food at cheaper prices; if money controls our decisions then money is our liberty. Regardless economic wealth, I feel security in surplus, maximized time, the big stack of pancakes, a pantry filled with food, an alcohol collection (even if I don’t drink), papers published, books read… to horde, and do the things I want to do.
For one week, I collected all of my food related trash. I didn’t collect food waste such as egg shells, the ends of vegetables, or food left on my plate. Instead, I just collected trash that I created via eating, cooking, storing, and transporting food from grocery stores. I wanted to see how much trash I was creating eating. Then I would analyze what trash I considered wasteful, what trash I felt was necessary for my style of eating, and begin to question the “convenience”. Food is a common topic in environmental studies. Although this is not my field of study, I would assume the way we eat in the United States, with all the individual wrapped processed convenience foods, creates a lot of useless waste bad for mother nature.
I originally got the idea to collect my trash from this video <http://vimeo.com/7964185> from NYC Food Studies program. This master degree program looks awesome! Know anyone that goes there? There are not to many “Food Studies” programs that I know about. I did find a list of schools on the Association for the Study of Food and Society‘s website <http://www.food-culture.org/programs.php>.