Food Inc.

LOVE having grandma live nearby. Saw Food Inc. last night, our fourth movie in three years, and cannot get over it.

What has become of our nation’s food supply? Why is it all made from a couple of crops, paid for by tax dollars, even though it’s not the healthiest food?

I mean, I taught Fast Food Nation for three years to my freshman English students. And I’m pretty well versed in everything Pollan says on NPR when they get in one of their all-food-all-the-time blocks. But I’m still shocked by a lot of what Food Inc. had to say.

Sure, it had the predictable propaganda moments. Music swell over repeated shots of the boy who died from E coli poisoning because beef recalls are still voluntary and the FDA and USDA have no real regulatory power anymore. Dastardly sinister music while we watch what technology has done to assembly-line food production. But pretty simple parsing of the purpose of the film would predict that. Of course it’s propaganda. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t have important information. Critical thinking skills (which, unfortunately, are not always taught in colleges anymore), deduce that most of the fundamentals of the film are sound.

Mostly, I’m shocked that when the government complains we’re out of money, that we can’t get Americans healthy because we can’t afford it, they’re ignoring a glaringly simple way to rescue two birds with one pocketed stone: stop paying anyone not following organic practices. Stop it. It should not cost tax payers for huge farming corporations (all four of them who control virtually all of what this country produces) to make food seem cheap. What tax dollars buy is the ability for chemical-laden corn syrup and soy Frankenbeans to be cheaper than more healthful foods (healthful for our bodies and the planet).

If we stop paying huge multinational corporations to produce tons and tons and tons of food that we then overprocess and feed to animals who should be eating something else, maybe food will cost what it should. Maybe a head of broccoli will be cheaper than brown, carbonated sugar water trucked all across the country using scarce petroleum. Maybe organic proteins will be cheaper than a chemical-laden, ammonia bathed, bacteria-opportunistic burger or chlorine washed chicken breast at a fast food restaurant. Or maybe people will cut back from their average of 200 pounds of meat a year because the real cost finally makes it a food they enjoy but limit.

And maybe if we take the tax savings and pay for health care, people who buy the now cheaper whole foods will be healthier and not need as much medical treatment. Maybe obesity and diabetes will decline from epidemic proportions and we will all be eating what our local farmers produce instead of the chemical sludge, shipped from thousands of miles away, that we’re all pretending is food.

So cut all subsidies to food producing companies. Don’t lie about how important corn syrup is for our national health. If we have that much corn, so much that it can be processed into any number of pretend foods, then we have too much corn. Stop paying agribusiness to genetically modify and pesticide and herbicide and chemically fertilize and gas-harvest and chemically wash and process and alter and reprocess and package and truck and sell.

Now that we have all that money back, take the savings and give us health care instead of massive profit private health insurance. Or subsidize organic farms and teach small farmers to become organic farmers. It would do the nation’s food supply a lot more good than huge quantities of sprayed and processed and modified foods.

And while the gov. is taking care of that, please vote with your dollars. Buy food grown safely by people you trust.

After the movie, we ate here and I still eyed the potatoes, a produuct normally so pesticide and herbicide treated that it has to sit for several weeks after harvest to outgas all the chemicals before it’s deemed suitable for human consumption. Mmmmm.

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Good guide

While we’re eye-high in corn this weekend, here is a wicked cool link for you. The people over at the good guide believe we should know more about what’s in our food, where it  comes from, and how it was created. So they rate foods, products, and toys to let you know how they’re made and what each will do to your body. They say on their transparency manifesto:

“There are three simple things everyone should know about their food but don’t:
Where did it come from? How was it made? What’s in it?

In the United States, manufacturers of processed foods are still not required to label where a product came from, whether it contains genetically modified organisms, or was produced using synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides.”

Check it out. They’ll tell you which sanitizers are best for your body and the planet. They have a great list rating the personal and ecological impact of thousands of foods and products including cleaners, toys, food, and personal products. Play around on their site. It’s good, clean fun.

Never, never read the news

The NRA says, “Now is not the time to debate politics or discuss policy. It is time for families and communities to grieve and to heal,” in response to this:

Sun 5 April: Father kills his five children them himself in Washington
Sat 4 April: Gunman kills three policemen in Pittsburgh before being wounded and captured
Fri 3 April: Gunman kills 13 people at an immigration centre in Binghamton, New York state, then apparently shoots himself
Sun 29 March: Gunman kills seven elderly residents and a nurse at a nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina, then is shot and wounded himself
Sun 29 March: Man kills five relatives and himself in Santa Clara, California
That is just last *week*.
When is the time to debate policy?

The news today…

…is depressing. I avoid newspapers and television news because the world is a scary, depressing, soulless place of nasty, angry, people who seem full of nothing but hate. Today is one of the reasons why I beg people to keep their horror stories to themselves.

And today I’d like to declare to the people on my official “done me wrong” list, those half a dozen people who have really been horrible to me or my family, who have done things that simply can’t be forgiven: you’re totally safe. I am still angry with you. I hold grudges and make no apologies about that. But I guarantee you I won’t spiral out of control into a shooting rampage. I will not hurt you or anyone you know. I don’t forgive well; that’s my problem. You are a terrible human being; that’s your problem. I am content to coexist with you on this planet without causing you harm.

You hear that, girl from fourth grade who bullied me and humiliated me? Reprehensible animal who selfishly fled the police at over 106 mph and slammed into us? Terrible woman who, though you may not have known how condescending you were, in reality robbed me of what little safety I had at a vulnerable time? Disgusting colleague who lied and blocked the clearest path to success just because you’re scared about your own failings? Couple who lied and continue to lie and took with them our life savings? All of you? You’re safe. I will not do any of the things that are in the news today.

Because of all the terrible things that have happened to me (and in comparison to 99% of the people on this earth I have led a charmed life) most of the worst have come from forces nobody can control. Earthquake, fire, personal loss, and cancer are all something on which I can blame nobody. So the small potatoes in my life can go on rotting unmolested.

I’m sorry for all the families who lost someone today. For all the people who lost hope today. For all the damage the human race does, daily, to the universe and its grand, cosmic potential. Sorry the allegedly advanced apes are screwing everything up, universe. We’ll keep trying.

Eco Lunch Boxes

In looking for preschools, we’re finding that a lot of local programs are at no-waste schools. So Peanut and I have been on the lookout for the perfect reusable lunch box and supplies. And in our search, we found a wonderful mom-owned and operated business that has all the best nontoxic, eco-friendly lunch containers. (I don’t know the owner or anyone who works for her. I get nothing if they do well, and I got nothing for free during the process of finding them and buying from them.)

One Small Step is an aggregator of all the best lunch sacks, lunch boxes, bento boxes, reusable containers, washable sandwich wraps, stainless beverage mugs, and other eco-conscious, non-toxic stuff. And they offer the best prices I could find online, which is more than a little important to me.

We got a lot of things, since we’re new to the whole “eating away from home without ziplock” thing.

Peanut chose a washable cotton lunch sack that he can paint with fabric paint.acme2

He chose a brightly colored bento box that we’ve used now for four meals in a row. I checked the measurements before we bought, and it fits perfectly into the bag.bento4

The bento box is big enough for an adult lunch, but small enough for preschooler who likes lots of choices.

He also chose a great washable sandwich wrap that velcros contents in a little non-toxic burrito.

cozy1

And the reusable-lunch gurus at One Small Step (maybe just one guru, if the handwritten note included in my recycled box from the owner is any indication that this is a new, new, new one-mom company)  included a few awesome bamboo sporks.

This company has no idea I’m blogging about its offerings and my enormous satisfaction with the customer service and quality of products. The ownerhas no idea I have a blog, nor that I have tens of thousands of readers (somewhere in there—who’s counting?) who hang on my every word.

Local, home-based business a mom started = yay. Eco-friendly = yay. Prices as low as I could find anywhere else online for the best quality stuff = yay. Can you tell I don’t have a future in reviewing? Yea.

Go get yourselves some reusable, nontoxic lunch stuff. I’m temted to go back for the Fugu neoprene lpunch box for myself. For the planet, you understand. For the planet.fugured

You know what, World?

You really suck today, World. Sure, it’s a gorgeous 70plus degree day. Sure, there have been some very nice people in my way today. But overall, you are a rotten and no good inhabited planet today, World.

So since you suck so much today, and you owe me some *major* kharma points for royally fucking with me when I really didn’t have it coming, please send some of your worst asspain to the following peeps:

Do me a favor and throw a pebble in the shoe of the a–holes who lied to us when they sold us the last house, the realtor who let them, and the realtor who didn’t catch the lie. Also, please, give a huge festering stye to the people ruining the planet, a labial sebacious cyst to chemical companies who get away with the slow murder of the human race because they have strong lobbyists, and a painful nasal laceration to the jerks abusing workers for a profit.

It’s the least you can do, you sucky, sucky world.

Real costs of doing business

You know what? It’s time for us to start paying what it costs to produce and ship the stuff we buy.

I’m sick of egg ranchers saying they can’t have cages big enough for the birds to turn around because eggs would be too expensive. Well, then, maybe we, as a nation, should buy fewer eggs. (Propostition 2 in California mandates that animals be able, int heir cages, tostand up, turn around or stretch. Egg producers are fighting the measure, saying they’ll all leave the state to continue cruel farming in other states. Won’t that make eggs more expensive because of shipping costs? Nope. I forgot that in this country gas is so cheap we can throw it away and not benefit financially from buying local.)

I’m tired of farmers saying they can’t pay workers a fair wage because strawberries and lettuce would be too expensive if they paid human beings what its worth to do backbreaking labor. Well, my friends, I would pick strawberries for a living if it paid well enough (I do pick enough each week to feed my berry-centric family), and I am willing to pay more for my strawberries because I want workers paid a living wage. I’m willing to pay a lot more because I can’t eat cheap strawberries without seeing the faces of families who can’t eat after a long day in the field because they’re not paid well enough.

I’m exasperated with fast food restaurants who say they can’t possibly raise minimum wage by a dollar because it would add two cents to the cost of a burger. Two cents. Yup, that would make people stop eating a quarter-pound of cow flesh-plus-feces, all right. Two cents.

I’m irritated that big agribusiness insists it has to modify and spray and innoculate and irradiate and otherwise alter food to make it cheaper. What about making it healthful? What about making it good or natural? What about paying a little more and eating a little less (and a little mroe wisely)?

No, I don’t want Americans to have to struggle to buy their food. But as it is, we’re not paying the real cost of food. We all need to be growing tomatoes on our patios and spinach instead of grass in our yards. Because underpaying businesses for their products means they underpay workers and abuse animals and the planet in the process.

Find out more about Prop 2 here: For yes and for no.

And perspective on the precious resources animals offer here.

And the real cost of strawberries here.

You’ll drink your rocket fuel and be grateful!

So the EPA doesn’t think poisonous perchlorate in our water is a problem. It’s rocket fuel water, literally, but at least you’re living in a country with running water. Twenty percent of the world’s population has no access to drinking water (and you should see what we’ve done to Iraq’s water supply). Seven million people a year get sick from man-made crap in their water, and wealthy nations are paying a premium in petroleum-heavy shipping costs for bottled water that often has toxic chemicals, bacteria, and plastic residue in it.

But the EPA’s refusal to ask for a defense department clean up of their mess in our water shouldn’t surprise us. Science has been declared moot (and mute) under the current administration, and in various states. Our fish are pumped full of mood-altering drugs because we pee and flush our antidepressants into rivers.

From the LA Times:

Among the compounds now phased out or restricted in Europe but still used in high volumes in the United States are the pesticides atrazine, lindane and methyl bromide; some phthalates, found in beauty products, plastic toys and other products; and nonylphenol in detergents and plastic packaging. In animal tests, those compounds have altered hormones, caused cancer, triggered neurological changes in fetuses or damaged a newborn’s reproductive development.

The “biggest single difference” between EU and U.S. policy is in the regulation of cosmetics, said Alastair Iles, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group. Cosmetics sold in Europe cannot contain about 600 substances that are allowed in U.S. products, including, as of last September, any compound linked to cancer, genetic mutations and reproductive effects.

So let’s toast with our rocket fuel water, eat our Prozac fish and hormonally altered mad cows, scrub our herbicide/pesticide infested produce, drink our toxic formula from toxic baby bottles, play with our lead-covered baby toys, and sleep on toxic mattresses and give thanks to the EPA, FDA, and USDA. It’s good to have you looking out for us.

Slaughterhouse morsels

Well, years after Fast Food Nation exposed the rampant practice of misleading and hiring illegal immigrants for slaughterhouse work, the government noticed. And busted several slaughterhouses.

Now it seems the latter group has found this convenient replacement source of abusable labor. Nothing like hiring children to butcher your meat (or win your gymnastics medals).

Please, y’all, reconsider eating the flesh of critters. Each burger includes a healthy helping of fecal matter, it’s bad for your heart, it can give you colon cancer, and the industry producing it abuses its workers, suppliers, and animals. They’re feeding dead cows to chickens, and chicken crap to cows. Why not just save a step and feed us all downer cows and SARS birds?

If you don’t get your antibiotic, hormone, fecal bacteria special burger from a slaughterhouse, and aren’t a particularly good hunter, make sure you have the government gun down animals who don’t have any measured effect on what you want to hunt.

Where’s that absentee ballot when you need it?