J500 Media and the Environment

Confessions of a diehard foodie by rarab

Isn’t it funny how our tastes change over time?

There was a time in high school when I thought Journey sang truth to power (yeah, dude, Don’t stop believin’, hold on to that dreee-aaa-mmm)…when I experienced the freedom of college, I thought Coca-Cola and Fruity Pebbles made the ideal breakfast…these days, I’m all about Leonard Cohen, unsweetened soy milk, and organic raisin bran cereal (I haven’t stopped believing, but now I just spell it properly…)

My point being that we are constantly evolving creatures, able to adapt to changing conditions, new ideas, different attitudes…sometimes out of convenience, sometimes out of necessity.

So when I hear others say that they’d love to eat organic and local but simply can’t afford it, I know they’re not seeing the entire picture. I mean, how many of us are willing to pay a little extra for, say, a sturdy pair of shoes or a nice suit (or dress)–or to get a little alligator emblem on our shirts in order to show others we care about the way we look? We’re more than willing to shell out the extra bucks for what we perceive as quality when it comes to the stuff we put on the outside of our bodies, so why should it be any different for what we put inside our bodies? And, if it came down to one over the other, wouldn’t you choose the latter?

To me, it’s a no-brainer.

Still, my introduction to environmentally-sound eating habits was, in many ways, by default: I was primarily interested in healthy eating, which in turn led me to organics, which in turn led to understanding that not all organics are created equal, which in turn led to me understanding that local organic foods were really “where it’s at.” The bottom line, though, is that my personal self-interest–better health–was always the driving force (I know, I’m a greedy bastard for wanting to live longer).

Nonetheless, I still have long way to go in terms of eating a completely environmentally-sound diet. You see, I’m a diehard foodie…I’ve loved food for as long as I can remember. I might even go so far as to say I can’t live without it!

So, while I do strive to buy organic and local, I also won’t let go of the amazing feta cheese I buy at the Mediterranean Market, which came all the way from Greece; I still buy spices from India, I still use olive oil from Spain…I try to buy local as much as possible, but, quite frankly, I refuse to give up some of my favorite foods.

In fact, giving up those foods seems almost contrary to our natural evolution. The world is quickly becoming a smaller place. For example, growing up, I remember just how difficult it was to place a call to relatives in India. You had to call during the wee hours of the night, get connected through an international operator, hope the neighbor was by his phone and that he’d pass on word to my grandmother–and then scream at the top of your lungs just to be heard. These days, I can issue an email free of charge to my cousin in Bangalore and it reaches him almost instantly. I’d hate for us to have to take a step backwards in terms of experiencing all the wonderful foods that different cultures have to offer.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way, but it will require some additional expense. As I mentioned before, the New Yorker magazine had an amazing piece on the attempts of British lawmakers to impose a carbon tax on foods. I’m all for this. I don’t mind if it means I’ll now have to pay twice as much for that Greek feta cheese. It’s a luxury and something I don’t need to have every single day…and I don’t mind paying extra if it’s for high quality–and if I know it’s being put toward environmentally-friendly practices.

So, once again, it all comes down to personal cost. Are you willing to pay more for foods that traverse the globe? Are you willing to pay more for healthier local organics? Or will you choose to pay less for crappy “food” laced with high-fructose corn syrup? Then again, are you really aware of the long-term costs associated with the junk that passes for food these days:

Because it is metabolized by the liver, fructose does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way it normally does. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter.

It can be overwhelming, no doubt, but if you truly are what you eat, would you rather be a raisin bran flake (nature’s candy) or a fruity pebble (from the town of Bedrock)? Just some food for thought, I suppose.

–Ranjit (the organic bran flake)


2 Comments so far
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Flakey, when’s dinner? Seriously, your evolution reveals so much about how we grow and change. I went through a similar trajectory – and will make an exception for any kind of chocolate.
I think what’s important to remember is that we contain multitudes. These posts are ways to highlight our imperfections as well as give ourselves big pats on our green backs.
I like the concept of Slow Food – savoring everything and celebrating the sense of place that food can provide. The thought of feta from Greece takes me back to a salad I ate sitting by the sea in Santorini, as much as a good Indian meal takes me back to my mom in North Carolina. I now want to inject handmade into my food mandate (organic, local, seasonal). It doesn’t always have to be local to me, but handmade and small-scale is definitely more delicious to me.

Comment by j500

If I’d known you were in need of dinner I would’ve saved a piece of the spinach pie I made (with the Greek feta)! Alas, it’s all gone!

Thanks for bringing up the Slow Food movement, which I had intended to mention.I really appreciate the idea of savoring our food, respecting and enjoying what we put into our bodies, rather than just looking for the quickest fix.

Thanks, too, for mentioning seasonal buying (something addressed in the New Yorker article I linked).

I agree that food in general (whether it’s mom-and-pop restaurants or cottage-industry producers) is always best on the small scale…it’s kind of like cooking itself: the bigger a batch you make, the less control you tend to have over it and the easier it is to compromise the dish’s integrity. Great, now I’m hungry again.


Comment by rarab

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