Saturday, October 18, 2008

Foodie Complaints

Last week a notice went around that a new food market was opening in our area, one that promised fresh, local produce. Wow! As a poet-organic eater-locavore I marked my calendar and got there on opening day, along with most of the rest of Colorado. I found things I'd been looking for, whole wheat couscous and whole wheat bread without high fructose corn syrup. I also found beef unmarked as to origin, foods labeled "natural"--a vague category at best and not at all a guarantee of humane, organic origins, and worst of all, chicken from a factory producer known for its awful labor practices and inhumane treatment of the birds. So, I sighed and mentally composed my letter of complaint to the management, fearing all the while that my one voice would make no difference. I've been known to bend the ears of supermarket managers in the past, and no chain has yet to change a thing in my favor.

However, I'm re-reading Gloria Steinam's Moving Beyond Words, an expose of Freud, advertising, and patriarchal power. She's speaking locally this month and I'm very excited to hear her. I last heard her speak to a small group in a church in Maine, sat there amazed that the room was not packed to its historic rafters. She would not flinch in the face of mass-produced food stuffs in a store pretending by its marketing and logo to be an earthy, wise-food supplier. Sigh. Now I have to put myself on trial. Do I roll over and buy what they offer, or do I speak up and make myself heard? It's easy to give in, give up, eat what's offered. "Just go away," I can hear the manager say. But as a writer, I have the skill and the responsibility to say what I believe, to tell the truth as best I can, to separate fact from opinion. And if you think I'm running on opinion in preferring locally grown, organic, humanely produced food, go read Michael Pollan's books and his long, well documented essay to the incoming president that ran recently in the NY Times. Then shop with this information in mind. Meanwhile, I'll cast about for a way to join the fray, and fray it will be to take on the conglomerate agri-businesses of this country.

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