I believe that food is important for so many reasons, from the incredible taste opportunities to its primary purpose of nourishing our bodies, and ensuring good health. Deeper than that, however, ‘best practice’ farming techniques can mean that small-medium scale food production can be beneficial to the natural environment, and a sustainable business model can create good employment opportunities, if workers are protected and paid a fair wage. However, commodification of food crops in our capitalist system and the inevitable rise of corporate involvement has meant that those who benefit the most from the food trade (the handful of mega-food conglomerates) are not those who have the farmer’s, worker’s, nor the consumer’s, best interests in mind. If you wanted the clearest example of this fact, you could mull over the fact that there is more than enough food being produced every day to feed everyone in the world, yet nearly one billion people go hungry. I wanted to briefly share my main motivation regarding food choice (if you hadn’t already guessed it) and give a small insight in to my food ethos, something that will resonate throughout the blog, and has influenced my recipes heavily.
The food on our plate is a complicated concept which encapsulates so many issues; food choice has become a political issue, and it’s clear that many of us need to reconnect with the foods that we are eating day in and day out. I am not talking about a deep spiritual connection with our mealtimes, but a basic recognition of the fact that the food we consume is like every other consumer product: it has had a life before it has reached us.
Just this basic acknowledgement will allow us to make more responsible choices when choosing our food, and will in turn encourage us to value it more, and discourage us from wastage.
When we purchase food, we are all voting for the kind of global food system that we want to see and the kind of food culture that we want to create. Yet so many of us are taking this voting decision far too lightly. Would you vote for a political party without doing any research first? Definitely not. During an election, you would most likely demand to know what principles the party in questions stands for, who and what they support in word and action, and how responsibly they are going to spend your money.
If you are particularly savvy, you would seek to find out what kind of professional and corporate relationships they held, what their vested interests were, who funds and lobbies them, possible corruption instances or patterns. You might become distrustful of individual politicians who could simply be charming you in order to secure your vote, and instead seek a range of perspectives who could deliver more truthful facts. You might even eschew mainstream media in order to find unbiased voices away from the campaign camaraderie, all for the sake of making an informed opinion.
If we can demonstrate such astute engagement in the political process, how can we remain so passive in our consumption choices?
Why do we take the word of the company- in terms of the ethicality of the productions process- who is literally trying to sell us the food? Why do we take at face value the wishy-washy claims of increasing “environmental obligations” or “social responsibility” without delving any deeper into what these claims actually mean, and who might regulate or even monitor these assertions?
Sure, the impetus can’t fully be on us as the consumer: there needs to legislative and regulatory change, especially concerning subsidisation policies, environmental protection laws, food labelling rules, misleading advertising, worker’s rights and the corrupt economic and political influence of agri-business, to name a few. However, this is still a market place, and the rules of supply and demand apply. We, as consumers, are an important pillar in the supply chain: what we refuse to buy, will not be produced. Our demand, influences the supply.
We need to be smarter, more thoughtful. We need to be pro-active in educating ourselves and become more aware. We need to vote every time we go to the supermarket, and sometimes, we might need to compromise.
The recipes on this blog reflect the kind of food system that I believe is the ‘right one’, one that aims to consider the social and environmental costs of food production, and one that holds endless benefits for our health, our minds and our bodies.