Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Living for Food

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, an account of writer Barbara Kingsolver’s attempt to attain true food security for herself and her family, is an enlightening and joyful read. Although I was already somewhat cognizant of the industrialized, fossil fuel dependent state that our food system has metastasized into, this account of an actual break from that cycle is a breath of fresh air. Obviously as a college student, my level of influence, particularly considering purchasing power, is fairly limited. However, as Kingsolver pointed out, there are always steps that can be taken, or improvements that can be made, no matter how small or seemingly ineffectual. Our attitudes and actions regarding food must change. We must become respectful of the process and maintain a high regard for the planet and its other inhabitants, whether animal or vegetable, that have so fortuitously allowed for the success of our species. Those of use who are already at least dimly aware of the environmental, ecological and agricultural challenges that humanity faces have the responsibility to continue to educate ourselves, educate others and endeavor to be instigators of proactive change. To “think locally, act neighborly” clearly elucidates the sentiment expressed by this book. How we produce food and in what manner we eat it quite literally determines how the whole world is used. One of the most salient quotes that I found in the book was actually in an aside written by Camille Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver’s daughter. It states simply that my generation must act as a force to retain our food security and foster not only the preservation of a robust agricultural system, but also a healthy planet:

“My generation, I know, has the reputation of sticking iPods in our ears and declining to care about what might happen in ten years, or even next week. We can’t yet afford hybrid vehicles or solar homes. But we do care about a lot of things, including what we eat. Food is something real. Living on the land that has grown my food gives me a sense of security I’m lucky to have. Feeling safe isn’t so easy for people my age, who face odious threats like global warming, overpopulation, and chemical warfare in our future. But even as the world runs out of fuel ad the ice caps melt, I will know the real sources of my sustenance. My college education may or may not land me a good job down the road, but my farm education will serve me. The choices I make now about my food will influence the rest of my life. If a lot of us felt this way, and started thinking carefully about our consumption habits just one meal at a time, we could affect the future of our planet. No matter how grave the predictions I hear about the future, for my peers and me, that’s a fact that gives me hope.”

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