Grinding Your Own – The Quest for Food Control in a Wonderbread World
Time for another thought in the grinding-your-own category. There is plenty of material out there in society harping about food. We have the first lady of the United States telling children what they should eat (while she scarfs down fast food), the mayor of New York dictating soft drink sizes and the usual assortment of vegans, paleos, diet nazis, and other nuts telling us what to eat. I’m not going to go there, everyone should be free in their own choices of what to put in their mouth.
That is what I want to talk about; food freedom. Before we embark on this topic, I suppose, I should tell you where I fit in the spectrum of food choice. Bottom line; I am completely against starvation. Moving on from no food, to what I actually eat, I suppose I am closest to the “cave man diet” that is all the rage right now. I have not read any books on the subject of this diet, but have kind of followed this concept for eating for a longer time than I could put a name on it. My food philosophy is as follows:
1) Don’t follow stupid food fads- eat what makes you’re body happy (as long as your listening to the long term effects)
2) Eat what is put in front of you- if someone has put a meal together, enjoy it or endure it, keep your mouth shut except to have another bite (unless you have allergies).
3) When making food choices for yourself, stay as close to the source as possible- if the root vegetables have dirt on them, you’ve killed your own meat or you find a bug in your berries, these are good things. It probably means your sourcing your own food supply.
4) Stay away from processed foods as much as possible- the more its ground up, the sooner you’ll be underground.
5) Grow, raise, hunt, gather, preserve- food independence has a spice all its own.
6) Be thankful for the food you receive- saying grace never hurt anyone.
I don’t follow my rules perfectly, I’ll eat a boxed pizza as quick as anyone, but these rules are always in the back of my mind. The rules keep me weeding my garden when its hot and give me the strength to pull the trigger on my future steak supply. I have worked at finding other foods that are as close to natural as possible, then support those sources. It is a lot of work to eat this way. Cost, prep time and planning become a challenge; it’s a lot harder than dialing for chinese food delivery.
North Americans have a weird relationship with food. We are so price motivated and health ignorant. Paying someone to grow organically is looked at as a food snobbery, or just plain spendthrift. Case in point; I used to own an earth sheltered greenhouse where we grew tomatoes, cukes and peppers, all organically. The flavor of our veggies was far and beyond the supermarket produce level, and many people told us that. They praised the flavour but tried to get us to sell at the cheapest supermarket price, and some wouldn’t buy our produce because of cost.
The most tomatoes per plant I could get, using organic methods (soil testing, foliar feeding, etc), was an average of sixteen lbs/plant. The mega greenhouse where the plants are grown in sawdust, and you need a chemistry degree instead of a green thumb, can get 80lbs/plant. The tomatoes forced with chemical fertilizer and sprayed for disease taste just like, well, nothing. It’s the economy of scale that makes factory food cheaper. North Americans will pay top dollar for clothes or jewelry (to wear on their body) but refuse to pay an extra penny for good food (that becomes part of their body).
Food fads, cheap food supplies (based on large scale petroleum hungry farm methods), little research into nutrition (health research is driven by drug company money) and penny pinching food attitudes have left an intellectual wasteland for making food decisions. When in doubt, go for the flavor, good tasting fresh food will always be slow grown (not forced) and the nutrition content better. There is a problem with this method, you may not know what good food is supposed to taste like. Give yourself a month to retrain your taste buds. Find yourself a natural food supply, one that you can acquire food as close to the earth as possible. Grow a garden, find an old style farmer that’ll sell stuff, hunt, fish, go to a farmer’s market, join a community supported agriculture (csa) group, etc. Live, totally, on this food supply for at least a month. When you go back to supermarket fast food, you will notice a difference; guaranteed. If that is too hard, pick a food you like; say pork chops. Now find a farmer that you can buy a real pig from, you know, a pig that has seen the sun and knows what its like to root in the dirt. Pay the farmer to haul that pig to a local abattoir and get it butchered. Eat that pork for a few months and then buy some pork from your local supermarket, factory pork tastes like pig feces smells; try it. Real food tastes like freedom. Long live real food!
If there is anything I would like my readers to take away from this, it’s that, food freedom. Maybe all the talk of butchering has grossed some out, maybe gardening is a boring topic, maybe pizza pops are your idea of fine eating; liberty, is everybody’s business. Food freedom is something most people don’t even think about, but control of a population’s food supply is as old as civilization itself. The favorite tactic of warring indian tribes was to find an enemies winter food supply (dried meat, pemmican, etc.) and destroy it. Kings during the middle ages gave royal decree to favorite millers, all others caught with milling stones (like the ones pictured at the top of this page) were executed. In more recent times Stalin’s socialist worker’s paradise starved to death 3 to 7 million people by controlling the food supply in the Ukraine. Governments and food are not a good mix, it’s not about safety, it’s not for the children; in the end it’s always about control.
If you think that food safety is at the bottom of all the regulations then ask yourself these questions. When contamination strikes in the food supply (and it’s inevitable) is it better in a massive plant that produces by the ton, or a local establishment that produces by the pound? What gives the people the most control of food quality? A local artisan where the public can see the operation? Or a massive food factory that the public never sees? (when was the last time you saw your chicken or cheese being processed?)
When my mom was a girl (50’s) she lived on a farm. The farm was a mixed operation and money was derived from milking cows (and separating the cream), raising chickens for meat and eggs, and raising pigs. The only commodity sent away for processing was the cream. The eggs and chickens (chickens were butchered on the farm) were sold to the local grocery store, the pigs were butchered at a local abattoir and the meat sold locally. Even vegetables were sold to the local store (if they had a surplus). When my mom was born, my grandpa butchered a steer and pedaled the meat in town to pay the midwife. Did all this farm-to-store food cause massive deaths? Was contaminated food a huge issue? Any more than today? Even this very week the news is filled with hamburger recalls due to food poisoning and plastic material found in canned vegetables. The issue is not safety, the issue is control. People (at least a free people) should be able to eat what they want. If you desire to eat processed sludge that should be your choice.
Maybe after reading this, and you hear of another armed government raid on a Mennonite farm selling “raw” milk, you will at least feel a little outraged. Maybe after reading this you will have an urge to find an old fashioned farm (they are a dying breed) and buy their produce. Maybe a few will realize that small scale farming is being destroyed by a combination of government regulation and profit hungry agribusinesses, and will support the concept of the family farm with their voices and their wallets. Maybe some will wake up and realize that the sources of garden seed are being bought up by the agri-giants, and the ability to control even home gardeners will be in the hands a few powerful men. Or at the very least, you will think about where your food comes from, and realize how important it really is.
Food is much more than something we put in our mouth, in the end food is the freedom to keep on living. Put this intellectual wheat in your grinder and grind out your own answer……who should have control of what we eat?