In the past two-ish years, I’ve done a lot of thinking about food, and “food products,” and what it all means. I don’t mean that I’ve been constantly hungry and thinking about food (though I do like to think about what I’m going to cook for EJV for dinner).
I mean: “food” does not mean the same thing today as it did a hundred, two hundred years ago, or even fifty years ago.
I’ve watched a variety of ‘documentaries’ about food (I use the word ‘documentary’ loosely, since it seems that anyone can make a movie these days, and record how their revolutionary diet is really the best thing for our over-stuffed, overfed nation), and each is more disturbing than the next. Yesterday, I watched “Vegucated,” a movie about three individuals delving into veganism. Do not misunderstand– I have absolutely no interest in becoming a vegan. Not that I judge others who are– I just can’t see myself sustaining such a diet for longer than a day. [I know my limits, and avoiding cheese for the rest of my life is just not in the cards.]
BUT, this movie brought up something that I take issue with in a variety of “diets”– I don’t believe in eating highly processed vegan (or vegetarian) food for the sake of being vegan. I don’t think I can look past the fact that regular cheddar has “Cultured milk, salt, enzymes” for ingredients, and vegan cheese has “Filtered water, tapioca flour, palm fruit oil, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and/or pressed safflower oil, pea protein, coconut oil, salt, inactive yeast, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, vegan natural flavours, gum arabic, lactic acid (vegan, for flavor), annatto, titanium dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral), natural smoke flavour, vegan enzyme.” If you’re set on giving up cheese (or hotdogs, or meat, etc.), how is it better for your health to eat that science project of a “food?”
And no, I’m not saying I don’t eat processed foods. I try to avoid them, but it’s hard to cut them out entirely. Yet, I’m fully aware that I can’t eat unlimited amounts of processed foods and somehow hope that I won’t have health problems down the line. As a result, I have a hard time understanding people who trade out “real food” that may include meat or other animal products for engineered foods, vegan or not. [In "Vegucated," there was a lady who claimed she was a vegetarian, but didn't "like vegetables." She mostly ate mac 'n cheese and pizza. Why?!] What is it that you’re truly after if you’re trading something found in nature for something made in a lab?
BUT, this brings me to a different point (one that I don’t understand well myself)… Today’s animals bred for human consumption only vaguely resemble the animals we used to eat. They’re pumped full of hormones, fed God-knows-what, and kept in deplorable, disgusting conditions. Who knows how that’s affecting our own bodies? Even the labels “free-range,” “organic,” or “grass fed” may not actually be true, and the food industry has cultivated such a culture of dishonestly and deception that it’s incredibly hard to know whether or not the food you’re consuming is actually what it claims to be.
It’s easy enough to implore people to buy local, or to find a reputable farmer, but as corporations push out small business owners, this may become a thing of the past.