Logan, the beautiful man-child that he is, offered me some of his mac/cheese/sausage combo last night. He put some on his fork and held it out to me. “Go ahead, dad, it’s really good,” he said. He knows that I’m fasting and I think he’s a little worried because I never don’t eat. (That affirmative statement in the negative form is for you, Gia). I politely refused. Then I launched into a multisyllabic explanation of why I was fasting. I do that a lot with my children. Some of it sticks; much of it they will probably use against me later—when I’m infirm and cognitively challenged.
Tonight I probably would have eaten the food and the fork. As the day has wore on I thought more about my stomach and less about the group leadership training I was in. I became a very bad partner after about 2PM.
Since I have been thinking about food (a lot), I also thought about our food system. Because that’s how my brain works. No small stuff for me.
Part of the problem we face with hunger in this country is economic and stems from the choices we make as a society: 47 million people are hungry because we allow them to be. It’s not a supply problem, that’s for sure. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we waste literally tons of food every year. That doesn’t account for the tons of wastage that occurs in the farming process prior to harvest. While our current farming methodology might be very productive, it is incredibly inefficient. The only thing that makes it work is cheap oil. (And how much longer do we think that will last, hmmm?). Firstly, why are we overproducing on that scale? Secondly, why isn’t that going to people in need around the world, much less in our own backyard?
The third point is really the crux: there are much more efficient and effective methods of farming—which coincidentally wouldn’t require an average of 150 million pounds of glyphosate per year that farmers now use. All of those methods can be employed with very little sweat equity by you and me. (Disclaimer: your volumes of sweat and equity may vary). A different, more diversified approach to food production in this country has to happen, and in many places I’m thrilled to see that it is. It’s even happening in my little neighborhood.
I don’t think we all should (or could) grow enough wheat in our backyards to feed our families, but I think we certainly can (and…shan?) grow enough leafy greens, root crops, tomatoes, legumes, melons, etc. And everyone should have some fruit trees—potted ones if you don’t have the space. Hell, this stuff can be grown in your apartment on the 22nd floor. Part of the hunger solution is moving a percentage of the food production system away from a centralized, large-scale, inflexible, overly-subsidized approach and putting it back into the hands of those who will literally eat the fruits of their labor. Community gardens and small local farms should also play a crucial role in the supply chain. Scale smart, I say.
(As an aside, here’s a fascinating NG article about how we may have made a mistake about 10,000 years ago and picked the wrong kind of grains (annuals) to base our production on).
Bottom line: I really like Trader Joe’s Gyoza….wait. Sorry. I meant to say that the bottom line is that part of the reason many are going hungry in the US is because the current system doesn’t encourage them to be contributors, only consumers. Their value is only really counted in monetary terms. They are defined by the dollar $ign. With a different approach (driven by reemphasizing a philosophy of the individual as a contributor of substance as well as monetary value) we can be both, and we would be much better off for it.