The first time I came to the States was November 1999, and I remember the hardest part of the six months living in CT was to adjust to food – I thought the food tasted bland and empty, and I was shocked seeing people who were so overweight. At the time, I knew very little about organic foods, but looking back, I realized I’d been growing up in China eating organics all my life but that wasn’t the case with most of the food in the US. I often ponder what “technologies” do to our life, environment and our body. 10 years later, quality of food sure has turned, unfortunately, for the worse.
Not too many generations ago, people still had a close bond to the land where they get their food from. Nowadays, we barely know how our food is made. It’s very interesting that all the health issues that we observed are sometimes labeled as genetic problems and therefore we think there’s nothing we can do about it. The links between HFCS and diabetes, fiber-free fast foods and obesity, allergic reactions and GMO (genetically modified organism), rBGH and early maturity of kids, are so strong but our society just moves on and thinks it’s all right since everyone else is eating it. The once-in-a-while treats of cookies, cake or McDonald’s shouldn’t hurt. Well, the reality is, it does great harm to our health.
During my trips back to China in recent years, again I was shocked by how quickly fast foods are moving in! McDonald’s, KFC were there for almost 30 years already, but now, Pizza Hut, Subway, Baskin Robins, Coldstones, you name it, it’s there! The Chinese kids are putting on pounds as well. Under the trendy and colorful marketing campaigns, these junk foods all of a sudden became pricey and sought-after for everyone. Sad, indeed.
The journey of learning about the food is a long process, we didn’t transition to organics only because it’s a fad, it’s simply we don’t want to poison ourselves. Our recent conversation with a Whole Foods staff was enlightening, listening to someone who has been in the food industry for a long time gave us a different perspective of what brought us to where we are today. Many of the chemical use, like rBGH started in the 50s, HFCS started in 80s and these issues just came to light, the US food industry is big business especially for exports, however, our dairy product is banned by EU, nobody wants it over there. I visited Michele in Switzerland in 2007 and 2008, and really enjoyed grocery shopping and cooking with her, the food quality was so good there and some simple preparation of the food tasted just wonderful, I remember cutting the mushroom and eating them, and I don’t even like eating mushroom raw! Unlike in the US, EU mandates the GMO labeling as well, so the consumers simply just don’t buy GMO products. In the US, some small farmers rebelled against the FDA USDA Organic labeling when it’s first introduced, since it’s so expensive, same as other labeling like Kosher. So many of the local farmers grow their foods organically but refused to pay for the labeling (for survival). Currently we do our shopping exclusively at Whole Foods, and it sure costs a lot more buying everything organic. But there are alternatives, in December 2009, we visited Fickle Creek Farm, and learned a ton about the farm and the farmers who grow the food, and the animals on the farm were doing what they are supposed to do – the pigs running around, chicken going into the hen house and laying eggs, sheep roaming on the grass, cows eating grass (instead of processed animal parts and corns). It’s really the best way to shop for good food, we are lucky in this area, having a lot of local organic farmers. So this morning, we visited Western Wake Farmer’s Market with Welkin (she’s as happy as she can be when it comes to good food) and bought our produce there, even though there’s no organic labeling, we know they are just as safe as the ones with the labels, with a much better price tag, of course.
We don’t know what the future will be, the S 510 bill in the pipeline really worries me, the increasing popularity of GMO is another big problem, couple of generations down, we will find ourselves being more and more sick, caused by genetic problems, but think of it this way, if you are feeding yourself toxic food, of course our genes are going to be altered, not right away but over a long time! Major companies like Monsanto, who by the way, invented rBGH and Agent Orange used in Vietnam war, donated seeds to Afghanistan, and now the farmers there found their own seeds don’t grow any more, what a brilliant strategy! The same stories repeat in Mexico, and Sudan, etc. More and more seeds that are natural, unaltered, that have been grown for millions of years are disappearing over a few years or even months, to me, this is the biggest crime against humanity, all for profit of big businesses. But all this is going on without any resistance from consumers, simply just because we don’t know or we don’t want to know.
This leads to the importance of shopping locally, and shopping from people we know, that’s the safest, affordable way of getting high quality foods, after all, we are voting for what we want every time we put food in our mouth. It’s not a fad, it’s a necessity for our own health and that of generations to come.