Let me state at the beginning that this start out as simple extra credit questions for my pastry chef. But, as I started writing, I saw how much I really had to say. As a Chef in training, my foundation and views are based in the search for better food quality and better taste. But, in this search, it leads in one direction. Stay away from processed foods and buy Locally when you can. As a Christian, I started noticing how we as people like to tinker around and try to improve on what God made prefect in the beginning. Not only is this destructive to ourselves personally but it has adverse effects socially.
So when others I know found out about the heath risk associated with artificial sweeteners (ie. Sweet and Low/Equal), they searched out for the “New and Improved” artificial sweetener (ie. Splenda) instead of going back to the way God intended, real sugar just not a lot. We really don’t what to get in to the issue of Splenda, that is a whole other blog. I started thinking a long time ago what’s wrong with the real sugar? So with what started as a Question, “whats wrong with sugar” to thoughts on Food Inc. Its been a long journey. So read this as a Q and A. Maybe you will agree with me, maybe you wont. But, hopefully it will spark some questions of your own.
How do you think you can be part of creating a healthier food system?
My wife and I are trying in part to create a healthy food system for ourselves. In a minute effect, this bears weight on the economy and our friends. I think most of our choice are made to have better tasting food and less processing; we have been going this way for the better part of two years. In my search for better quality food, better tasting food, I impact our local growers, economy, and food system. That’s a win/win for everybody.
What did you learn most from the film?
What I learned from the film was mostly visual affirmation of what I already knew. It ties the ends together when you know information but get to see it in action. For instance: corn, one of our greatest contributions to the world, is also the down fall to our nation on an economic and health basis. Why do we have to the need to categorize, divide, label and quantify, every aspect of piece of food to the level we have? We have a problem with trying to pervert natural gifts of our world, so far to level of breaking down the natural coding into something it was never meant to be. As chefs we manipulate, force, bend and coddle food into what we want it to be, all the while it retains the essence of what that food is. That takes a lot of ego. I understand that but what kind of God complex does it take for us to force corn in to sugars, plastics, and fuel and it to never be what it was meant to be, all at risk to consumers and a profit loss to the farmers who grow it?
Since viewing the film, will you make any changes in the way you eat and purchase foods?
I refer to question 1 for the part of my answer. Yes, I have prior to watching the film made changes and I have made a lot more after watching the film. We have made two major steps, the first being the biggest. Elora and I have given up all; if we have any control in it, high fructose corn syrup. The major source of that being Coca Cola. First knowing that they are in the top ten “Evil” companies in the world, we were big Coke drinkers, but it took a little more knowledge about the health issues for us to say no more. And, if you know Elora, that was a big deal. If we have to have soda, we try to get one made from Cane Syrup, or not at all. The second change we made focuses us in our purchases. We look for local, natural, organic in any combination of those three. We have already noticed a difference just in the nutrient density in “slow food” method. You just don’t need to eat as much to feel full. Along with that eating has turned into more of an event, than the old rushing around it use to be. It harkens back to a past culture.
What was the three most alarming things you learned from the film?
1) I use to be a huge supporter of Capitalism-that was a few years ago. I am not a supporter of government imposed socialism either, but I never realized that the majority of our food was produced by so few companies, and they fight to retain all control, even to the point of censoring what really happens behind their doors. Who knew that such secret police tactics, pulled from the play books of Nazi Germany, were prevalent in our country? What is the real purpose of Monsanto having roaming informants to take down any small town man, with the governments backing?
2) I just love how all these companies like Kashi which seems like it cares about it purpose in quality natural foods and the community, are really owned by Kellogs; which was one of the major pushers of corn, nutrients, quake methods in the earlier 20th century (read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan) All that is to say they bought Kashi just to have a little more profit margin and a new niche. There is a growing segment of the population that are not buying “kellogg” products for healthier Items; most have no idea it is the same company with a different mask.
3) I find it shocking that the government has subsidized the corn industry to such a point that derivatives of corn is found in almost all processed foods on the shelfs of our stores, and at much cheaper price than “whole foods” in the produce aisle. This forces the lower income levels to buy those products purely based on the affordability of them over heathier items, which leads to other health problems like diabetes which in turns makes them pay for medications to fix that problem and lower the amount of liquid funds available to make food purchase. As you see this lead back the beginning of the circle, making it easier to buy processed “junk” food. This is something that I have seen in my family. My Dad and his family came to America from Juarez in the late 40’s. Just the distance of a few miles, a border and western eating habits has changed my family for ever. My abuelita (great grandmother) stayed in mexico living a peasant life. Eating what she could grow and raise, she lived to at least 105 (long story about her age but that is a minimum) and only in her 90’s did she start taking medications due to knees wearing out. Her Daughter, my grandmother, came in to America post WWII and followed western eating habits of processed foods, and quickly came down with diabetes and host of other problems. Enough problems to have a tote bag full of medications that she took till the end of her life. Of course the eating habits followed the generational lines. All of her children have more medical problems then they know what to do with. Which leaves me in a bad place for the future if I don’t change things now for me and my children.