How to Change the Food Culture

For the past several years, multi-national corporations have corrupted the once-local food sector with cheap unhealthy ingredients and mass-production of highly processed fare. Once upon a time this was only true in the conventional food arena, but as always, much wants more. As the organic sector garnered attention, the food giants of the world eyed it as a new frontier, and only a few years later we see it eroding as big box stores become the principal purveyors of now faux organic food. As if corrupting the quality of food were not enough, the agenda also includes undermining the craft-food sector in a continual price war (made possible by tax-dollar subsidies, of course). Not to mention wining and dining politicians and regulatory agencies to effectively eliminate food choice.

For nearly as many years, the integrity food movement has complained and griped about all of the above. When GMOs quietly began appearing in food over 25 years ago, we essentially lost that part of the battle. And ever since, the craft-food crowd has been grousing about the experiment on an uninformed society and how children are being poisoned with toxic glyphosates and noxious ingredients. We call for legislation and beg for contributions to our lobbying efforts. Stand up to the pernicious industrial food complex, we say, and give us your money to help exposure efforts and non-profits.

And what you get for your money is more losing and more complaining. Our legislative efforts and exposé endeavors cost the offending companies virtually nothing. Lobbying—if we win anything—becomes so watered down by the time it’s passed that it’s virtually meaningless, and our exposé never makes the mainstream news. At the end of the day too many of us still revert to buying their goods and services, and they know it. Oh, we may have moved our food purchases to the organic section in an effort to boycott them, but they own that too—under separate pure-sounding brands, so no worries there.

Corporate America wants it both ways; they want us to buy their goods and services and they want their exorbitant profit, cushy market monopoly, and woke virtue-signaling. And since the vast majority of society doesn’t opt out of the formally accepted supermarket food system, they continue to openly repudiate the ever-increasing number of health-conscious customers with pseudo food made to appear healthy.

Obviously, what doesn’t work is complaining and griping while consistently ceding our patronage to bully corporations who hate our values. What doesn’t work is integrity food producers who criticize the FDA and USDA for being in bed with the industry yet accept their oversight, which ultimately leads to disqualification of certain high-demand products because of regulation. 

Do we too, think we can have it both ways? Can we aid and abet “the system” while at the same time opting out? If “the system” openly disregards our values, how can we support them? For myself, I can’t pretend to abide by regulatory edict while underhandedly marketing unapproved products under an alibi label. Sure, it’s frightening and risky to openly tell the local health and agriculture departments who we are and what we do, and that we have no desire to partner with them. But can we risk our values by affiliating with an industry who would rather see us out of business because they’re aligned with corporations who hate us? Opting out is hard (be it going against status quo regulation or eschewing the “affordability” of supermarket food), but the freedom that comes from being true and honest to ourselves and living by our convictions is sweet.

While I don’t disdain folks who spend time contacting congressmen and pushing for remedial legislation, I’m not convinced that it’s the best path forward. Frankly, I’ve given up on lobbying and legislation. People ask what we think of the new farm bill. And I must say that I haven’t even read it. I don’t care about the farm bill. I know it has potential implications, but to change it requires a lot of lobbying effort for a minimal difference.

If all the people who have their pants in a wad about regulation and corruption and combating these things were to put their resources to practical use, what a difference we could make. Remember, where we put our effort—it grows. If we put our effort into more legislation—legislation will grow. More deception. More hard-to-understand legal jargon on many reams of paper. However, if we opt out of the system, food producers feel it in their pockets. Speak with your dollars, move the market. We have surrogate decision makers if we rely on Congress to fix the food supply. Let’s not leave our health to surrogates.

Find alternative sources, vote with your food dollars, exercise and develop intuition, and become skilled at vetting provenance. If we become expert at these, we could stop being riled up with all the legislative efforts that occupy our time. These are the things that will change the food culture. Plus, if we stop being vexed with the status quo and focus on positive change we make ourselves far more attractive to seekers. Positivity and effectiveness entices people. Remember Margaret Mead’s succinct quote; “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

And that, is The View from the Country.

Quotes worth Re-Quoting –

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”― Mahatma Gandhi

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”― Rob Siltanen