I saw “The Hunger Games” with my 11 year old son today and, while I enjoyed the movie (and the books), I believe that we are in the midst off our own “Hunger Games” at the moment.
I won’t go into too much detail on the story, but here’s the gist: after a bloody revolution where 12 districts rose up against the Capital and were defeated, there was a “peace” formed with the creation of The Hunger Games. Every year, from each district a boy and girl are chosen (the Reaping) to compete against the other district “tributes” in a televised battle to the death for the Capital’s amusement. Twenty four enter the arena and only one leaves. This is their punishment and a reminder that the Capital is in control. Each district provides something the Capital needs (wheat, coal, fish, etc) but has very little for themselves as everything is guarded closely by “Peace Keepers” and sent on the Capital. The people of the districts live hand to mouth and its all they can do not to starve.
While I do not know if the author, Suzanne Collins, had any of this in mind, I believe there are a few parallels to our present day situation that are just as insidious.
According to FeedingAmerica.org: in 2010, 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 32.6 million adults and 16.2 million children. This is 14.5% of households where people don’t know where their next meal might be coming from. We consider ourselves the wealthiest nation on earth, the greatest place in the world to live, the American Dream exists for everyone, etc. and yet 1 in 6 Americans are going hungry. WTF!?
This might not be so maddening if, as I mentioned in a previous post, we weren’t wasting an inordinate amount of our food at the same time. According to the film “Dive“, 50% of the food produced for consumption is thrown away. So we have a high rate of hunger and waste occurring simultaneously. Thankfully many have discovered this absurd situation and are working with grocery stores to collect their edible food waste (watch the film, you’ll be shocked at the amount and reasoning behind all that waste) and deliver it to local food banks. Thank God for people like this, who are not only reducing the amount of edible food headed for our landfills, but giving it new life to feed people who would otherwise go hungry.
Something our government did right (under President Bill Clinton) was to enact the Food Donation Good Samaritan law which encourages companies to donate food, but protects them from liability except in cases of gross negligence. Thanks, Bill!
I appreciate the fact that I live in a country where we have so many freedoms. But do we really?
You would think that our ability to choose nutritious foods for our families to eat would be the most basic of all the freedoms available, right? In fact, because our very health and well being (not to mention productivity, prosperity and security) depends on eating the freshest, highest quality (organic, grass fed, etc) meat, vegetables and fruit available, you’d think our nation would be focused on making this a priority of the first order. Right?!
Rather than focus on the creation of high quality, nutrient dense foods for our nation’s people, the collaboration (or collusion) between our government and big business is more focused on creating the cheapest possible “food”, from the least nutritious ingredients at the expense of our health for the benefit of their shareholders and the politician’s campaign funds. I realize this sounds all “conspiracy theory” and such, but if the shoe fits…..
Walk into any supermarket and take a look around. The vast majority of the food there is processed garbage. The produce is largely NOT organic, the meat and dairy products are largely CAFO sourced, the bread, cereals, chips, sodas, etc. are not worth eating even a little bit. So what happened to the freedom of choice? Where’s the choice? Much of the processed, inedibly “food” you see at the store is subsidized by our government (corn, wheat, soy, etc). But what about the high quality food? Why isn’t that subsidized? Shouldn’t we promote the growth of food that is the best it can possibly be? Shouldn’t we, as a nation, strive for the most nutritious, tasty, free of pesticides, better for the environment food? Shouldn’t we?
Why aren’t we?
Why are we raiding farms that sell raw dairy to those who desire it? Why are our laws and regulations focused on making the lives of CAFO providers easier and the lives of smaller, pastured providers, harder? Why are we subsidizing the least nutritious foods and declaring them a part of a nutritious diet? Why are we allowing Monsanto to create dangerous GMOs that poison the environment, the people and animals that consume them and which bankrupt the farmers that put their faith in their “technology” as well as the ones who don’t and are merely caught in the path of errant seeds? Why indeed.
For some reason we encourage corporations which take plant and animal products and turn them into commodities that are grown, harvested and processed with cruel efficiency and zero regard for either the animal, crop, environment or even the consumer who will be eating the end result. We do this to the detriment of our health as a people. Our actions clearly playing out in an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, rampant autoimmune disease and skyrocketing health care costs. But keep eating those “heart healthy” grains folks, they’re part of a nutritious breakfast! Bullshit.
The only choice we have is to “opt-out”. Like our clever protagonist in the aforementioned Hunger Games, we need to stop playing the game. The only way we win, is by going directly to the farmers that care about the food they produce and give us the most nutritious and high quality product available. Just because it says organic at the supermarket doesn’t mean it is. Get to know your local farmer, heck go and see their farm. We need to vote with our wallets and our guts. We need to do what’s right and support our local farmers who are fighting an uphill battle. We need to go back to the future by way of our food supply. Its the only way we can win. Money talks.
There are a number of sites created to help connect farmers and consumers.
If you haven’t checked out EatWild.com, start there. The site needs some updating, but its a good resource.
A new project called RealTimeFarms.com is attempting to track product from farm to table and can use your help to do so. Very cool use of data.
You can even use Yelp.com to find local farmer’s markets. There’s one in Campbell that is year round and I’m going to swing by today to see what I can find.
Its up to us, people. If we want to send a message to the powers that be, we need to do it in a language they understand. Our hard earned cash. Choose wisely and “may the odds be ever in your favor.”