I keep putting off re-starting this blog because I can’t think of the best way to do it. It never seems like the perfect time. I look down the road at committing to all of it, and it’s overwhelming, so I commit to none of it. For some reason, today I just thought: What the hell.
A couple of things have been really tugging at me lately to talk about. Some positive food news: fast food workers striking for higher wages, for one. This isn’t about food itself, of course, but the reason I’m so interested in and passionate about sustainable food is because it is an interconnected set of issues. Underpaid workers perpetuate poverty in classically underserved populations and regions. Poverty in the U.S. is strongly associated with poor food choices due to the relatively higher costs and lower availability of healthy raw foods. and subsequently, more support for processed and fast foods (not to mention poor health). It’s a cycle. Paying fast food workers more should ideally lead to two things: higher prices on fast food, making healthy choices more appealing by financial comparison, and more spending power in the pockets of those who need it most.
Then this tid-bit, also in fast-food news: Chipotle sourcing grass-fed beef from abroad instead of using lower-quality U.S. meat. Will it put sufficient pressure on domestic producers to make them switch from factory-farmed to pastured cattle? No. But what I hope is that it’s a sign, a marker as we make our way towards an ethical food tipping point. Chipotle is not a mom-and-pop organization. It’s profitable, it’s mainstream, and they’re voting with their dollars, and that vote is a vote agains the American meat industry. Even McDonald’s, poster child for the abusive factory farming system we have, is at least looking to make its beef “sustainable” by 2016 (this has less to do with animal welfare than it does with environmental concerns, but again, they’re interconnected).
I’ve also been trying to put my money where my mouth is more seriously of late. I’ve been trying Mark Bittman’s clever Vegan Before Six (VB6) eating plan, which I’ve been pretty good about if you don’t count the cream in my morning coffee. I’m only buying meat that’s been raised humanely — which does translate into, when going out casually, choosing places like Chipotle or b.good, and when going out fancily, choosing places that emphasize farmer and supplier connections — and thinking consciously about my lapses (I’m sorry, I really love pork Chinese dumplings).
Over the last couple of years, food hasn’t become less important to me. More and more, it is clear to me that solving the food challenges faced by our global community is the linchpin to our success as a species. I’ll start brainstorming here again, because, well, what the hell.