I’m on a business trip this week. That means I’m having the whole business travel experience (flight delays, overpriced hotel, exhorbitant fees for in-room Internet service, etc.), which includes a free copy of USA Today newspaper.
While getting a bit of work done in my hotel before heading to my meeting, I opened the paper and see a story in the Money section that gets me really worked up: Global demand lifts grain prices, gobble supplies.
This story touches on so many things that are just plain wrong with how we look at food and food supplies these days.
Using food crops to fuel our guzzling vehicles
A global food culture that is overly dependent on a small number of crops of limited varieties: wheat, corn, rice.
A national food culture that is fully dependent on processed foodstuffs, that are likewise fully dependent on just a few of these limited varieties of crops. [Read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma if you want to understand just how much our national “food” is dependent on corn; pretty scary.]
The perpetuation of our dysfunctional national food culture on developing countries, who are abandoning their native food cultures that emphasis more sustainable, wholesome foods. [I’m a huge fan of Michael Pollan and am reading his latest book, In Defense of Food, which goes into this issue.]
A bit of sub-text: we are breeding out of control and are unable to produce all the food needed to feed these teaming hordes. [OK, this is my personal read on the situation, but just ask yourself: where are all these hungry people coming from?]
My business trip brings me to New York City. Last night, I wandered out of the hotel in search of a sandwich and found myself in the middle of consumerist territory: Times Square. My meetings are in mid-town, so I really need to stay in this general area so I can walk back and forth. But I must say it sickens me to see all this *stuff* promoted through all the signs.
And this isn’t just a New York phenomenon. I had a similar reaction two weekends ago as I walked through a shopping plaza running errands. As I saw all these cars driving around and around to park, yet few people walking from store to store; as I carried my canvas tote around to the shops, declining plastic bags to the bewilderment of clerks; as I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of crap (plastic flowers, plastic beads, etc.) in Michaels that will likely end up in a landfill within the next 2 years.
I’m really struggling to keep participating in this culture and lifestyle. It disgusts me and makes me feel sort of hopeless, too. Anyone else feeling this way?