Daniel and I watched Food, Inc. this weekend and let's just say I have a new perspective on food. It was difficult to watch because I love food - I read about it and think about it almost all the time. The movie made me wonder how often people really THINK about their food. Do you wonder how the grocery store becomes stocked with your favorite items like packaged goods and produce? I shop at Henry's, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods and find myself looking at the back label where the ingredients are listed. It's interesting to see that sometimes I can't even pronounce the ingredient - does this mean I put it back? Not at all. It may give me goosebumps but I move on because I need that ingredient or because I like that particular product. I also put the item in my cart because they come from these particular grocery stores where I feel more confident that they choose products that will sustain our earth and give back to our local farmers with fair wages. But after watching this movie, I'll think twice about what I put in my shopping cart.
In the last year, I would say I'm a little more conscious of what goes into my every day products like my personal hygiene products and food. Daniel and I go to the farmer's market (when possible) and go to Henry's where they promise that a majority of their produce is from local farmers. After watching Food, Inc., you'll realize that farmer's are not earning fair wages from large corporations that offer them contracts. One of these large corporations (that I don't think I'm legally allowed to say because I could be sued) pays the farmer only $18,000 a year; the farmer gives them about 25% of their product line (i.e. chicken tenders, chicken breast meat etc.) While it's easy to think that farmers can cut ties from these large corporations, everything gets difficult when money is added to the equation. Farmers can't cut it on their own, they need these major corporations to make a buck and help them out of the heaping debt that their in. As consumers, we can help them. If you avoid certain products, you can help these farmers. Go to Eat Well Guide to find local farmer's markets and other places where you can find products/produce to demonstrate to the corporations that you don't want their products until they change their ways. Not only do they have to change their relationships with local farmers, they also have to change the way that they treat animals. I'm not a vegetarian but animals have rights too. They should be living freely until they come to your dinner table. For this reason, Daniel and I purchase grass fed beef and free-range chickens. Consider this the next time you purchase your meats and produce.
Another thing you can do is write a letter or an email to your local market to see if they are willing to change their ways too. I recently wrote a letter to my local Trader Joe's store to see if they can change the way that they package their produce. If you've been to Trader Joe's before, you'll notice that most of their fruits/vegetables are packaged in cellophane wrappers. They use recyclable material for the base but not for the top. I'll keep you posted on what their response is.
My last rant - I read a recent article on a group of college students who wanted to track the miles that went into making one taco. You'll find it quite surprising.
*Disclaimer - I'm all for trying to help the local farmers but please understand that sometimes it is difficult especially if you don't have a budget to purchase the more expensive local products. Specifically, for me, this means baking items. I like to bake a lot and buying gourmet chocolate chips, flour, and sugar that are produced locally make cost me more. I'm going to try and find ways to make this happen without breaking the bank or supporting large corporations.