I read this at Jenna's blog yesterday and it galvanised my thoughts for today's post. This is actually a continuation of yesterday post, it's about food security, making better choices, convenience, freshness and nutrition.
When we look back 20 or 30 years we usually think things have always been the same as they are today. Yes, 30 years ago, in the 1970s, supermarkets were starting to sell meat on polystyrene trays that were protected from the world by the new cling wrap, invented in the 50s. Food shopping was beginning to change - we started to be removed from food and its origins. Thirty years before that, in the 1940s, you bought meat from a butcher, you saw carcasses hanging in the shop, there was sawdust on the floor to soak up blood and you knew when you saw that meat that a life had been taken for you to eat your steak or roast. The entire animal was eaten - it was common then to eat liver, heart, hooves, ears and everything else that was part of the animal. I clearly remember shopping with my mum and seeing the butcher slice through muscle still attached to the carcass.
We have come from a long history of knowing and growing our own food to this current aberration of being cut off from it. This has never been part of our history, the connection with animals and the soil was the norm. Now we don't know exactly where or what our food comes from and we blindly buy it trusting the seller and government regulations. Last night I was horrified to see a report on TV that said there's been a huge increase in the amount of food imported into Australia from China. Australia is a primary producer of all foods from beef to seafood to vegetables and dairy. We don't need to import any food! So why are we? Is it because it is cheaper, more convenient, easier than growing our own?
I have seen feed lot cattle and poultry farms and I swear I will never eat that way. I know it is cheaper, I'd rather not eat meat or chicken if it comes from those farming practices. I know that vegetables and fruit sold in Australia recently, imported from China, has been contaminated with eColi. But this is not an Australia-only problem, this is world-wide. This part of Jenna's post really hit home to me, she wrote: "Ask the average American if they'd rather buy feeding lot chicken that comes with a death warning then drive to a farmer's market down the block and pay a dollar more a pound for a free-range disease-free bird. Most will prefer the healthier option, but few choose it. "
Why not choose it if it's your preference? Is it the money factor? Is non-feedlot meat seen as too expensive? I can buy pasture fed meat here at my local butcher for less than the same cut of meat at the local supermarket. It's not certified organic but it is grass fed, free range and local. I think a lot of Australians would have access to this kind of meat, and maybe a lot of Americans and Europeans, but it will not be at your supermarket, it will be at your butcher or the farmers market.
I am going to challenge everyone here to eat one meal a week that is either organic or local or free range and pasture fed. I know there are many people here who cannot afford to be exclusively organic. I am one of them! But I can move towards my preference deliberately, instead of haphazardly. Hanno and I will eat at least one fully organic, local or free range and pasture fed per week from now on. If we can't afford to buy our preferred cut of meat, we'll still buy organic but it will be a cheaper cut. We are already meat-free a few days a week, but if you can't afford to buy the meat you prefer, maybe you would sacrifice a couple of meat meals and eat vegetarian, using organic or local eggs and vegetables, for a couple of days to free up that money for organic or local free range meat.
This is not only about meat and poultry, it's also about dairy foods and fruit and vegetables. Buying (or growing) local foods and organic foods over mass produced cheap non-seasonal food will brings us closer to how we used to shop and eat and towards more nutritious choices.
As Jenna writes: "Experts say if every American ate one meal within 100 miles of their home a week the food industry would be forced to change dramatically. The organic wouldn't be expensive, it would be normal. That's right, the more of us eating organic and local food the cheaper it becomes."
Make a stand with me, change what's inside today and move towards this healthier option. If you can't afford to buy local or organic meat, buy local vegetables, cheese, milk or as Jenna suggests, "get some oats at the farmers' market and you've just eaten a breakfast that can change the world." Buy or swap some open pollinated seeds and grow your own heirloom vegetables. Start seeds saving. It is as easy as that. Let's get back to simple clean fresh food. I understand that you might not be able to buy all organic or local food but stick with me and lets move in that direction on purpose, even if it's only one meal a week. At least let's make a start.
Who is joining this challenge? If you'll eat local/organic/free range and pasture fed meat, poultry, dairy foods or fruit and vegetables at least once a week for the next six months, I want you to join in. And tell your local politicians, your friends and family and anyone who will listen what you're doing and why you've made this change. If you've preferred the healthier option but never chosen it before, now it the time. And if you can't do a full meal, do your best.
I will start a new topic for this challenge at the Down to Earth forum this morning so if you will join me, comment here to join then tell me about your plan at the forum. Each week we'll all list what we've done and through that we will learn more about what to buy and where to find it. Tell us the shops where you're shopping, direct us towards farmers markets where good food is available, lets do this and help each other to do it as well. We need addresses and phone numbers - list them all, promote your local community and help each other in the process. I'm calling it the TOOL Challenge (Towards Organic Or Local), so grab the button, put it on your own blog then join me for a full discussion at the forum. I also invite Jenna's readers to join as well. Please read her post, it is what compelled me to write this today.