Food Manifesto Essay
The ideal food system is; sustainable, both in practice and in mindset, values necessity over want whenever food is concerned, and is available to all peoples while promoting equality. Sustainability at its hear is both a practice and a mindset. One cannot be present without the other or else they fail. The current food system is incredibly unsustainable. The use of an enormous amount of resources for the relatively small amount of energy produced is horrendous.
“During the past 50 years, agricultural development policies and practices have successfully emphasized external inputs as the means to increase food production. This has led to growth in global consumption of pesticides, inorganic fertilizer, animal feedstuffs, and tractors and other machinery. These external inputs have. however, tended to substitute for natural processes and resources, rendering them more vulnerable.
Pesticides have replaced biological, cultural and mechanical methods for controlling pests, weeds and diseases; inorganic fertilizers have been substituted for livestock manures, composts and nitrogen-fixing crops: information for management decisions comes from input suppliers, researchers rather than from local sources: machines have replaced labor: and fossil fuels have been substituted for local energy sources” (Pretty). The use of resources that we cannot keep using is astronomical. These resources, such as fossil fuels and heavy pesticides, need to be left alone or need to stop being developed.
The way we can move away from these products is simple, although tough, method of switching over to natural, organic pesticides and fertilizers. To cut down on the cost and use of fossil fuels, one must cut down on the size of one’s land and employ local people to harvest the crops. “A meat based diet (28% calories from animal products) uses twice as much energy to produce as a vegetarian diet. Meat production as it is widely practiced today also has significant environmental impacts on land use, water use and water pollution, and air emissions.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists – considering land use, and water use and pollution – eating less meat is one of the most effective environmental consumer choices. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides require large amounts of energy to produce, pollute our soil and water, and present real human health impacts. Growth in retail sales of organic food products has equaled 20% or more per year since 1990” (Center for Sustainable Systems). These practices are wasteful yet alternatives are present.
The way in which our food is produced needs to be fundamentally changed and this occurs when the mindset of the populous is changed. The current food system has been so wasteful, that the practices and mindset of the people just 50 years ago seems foreign. “Less than 50 years ago most rural households in the US sustained themselves by farming. While some agricultural products were sold for money on the open market, others were produced solely for household consumption of for bartering with neighbors” (Lyson 8). This practice is the same that my family uses at home and my neighbors see us as very “hippy-ish”.
This is not a bad thing to be called this yet it is odd that the practices that were completely normal just half a century ago are now seen as unusual. These practices are the foundation of my ideal food system, one that is founded upon the wants of the body first in consideration with the land. The land is an extension of the body and must be nourished just the same. This is helped with the sharing of resources between neighbors. The necessity for food is valued higher than the want for types of food in my ideal food system.
The want for expensive foods, convenient foods and cheap foods is an idea that has consumed the country, and the food system. The fact that we produce so much food has made us greedy. The way in which we consume food and are constantly absorbing advertisements is preposterous. The size of our grocery stores has increased due to the need for more space for all of the choices that we are allowed. Most of these items are not grown entirely in the United States but are made up from the products developed here. “There is no shortage of food here, and everybody knows it.
In fact, for much of this century, national agricultural policy has been preoccupied with surplus, and individual Americans have been preoccupied with avoiding, losing, or hiding the corporeal effects of overeating” (Poppendieck). This has led to an epidemic of choice, not obesity. The way in which we behave when confronted with these choices is odd to say the least as we are drawn to shiny, bright packaging rather than the dull, healthy apple. “Because we have lost our faith in both religion and science as guides to eating, we rely on popular writers to steer us through a welter of confusing and contradictory information” (DuPuis).
The food writers of the nation have left us with so much to absorb that we are just as lost reading their work as we are at the grocery store. This has led to the mindless consumption that has further led to the overconsumption of resources to fuel our poor habits. The way in which the people will learn to implement this new way of thinking, abandon want and embrace need, will be difficult. This starts in schools with children and will foster that way that they eat, thus starting a new generation with the “right” mentality.
“Such changes in the food supply and decreased activity are largely socioeconomically-driven (urbanization, more cars owned and operated, less safety in urban areas, children being driven everywhere instead of walking, more reliance on fast food as more households have both parents working away from home)” (Massad). This also reiterates my point on the decrease of unsustainable resources in our food system. The encouragement for people to walk places and to avoid fast food is a start but the children are the bet recipients for this type of indoctrination as they are the most impressionable.
This is very apparent as many people as adults take part in activities not out of personal preference but because that was how they were raised. Availability is the clearest factor in devising a new food system. The locality of food should be so much a part of a community, one cannot walk down a street without seeing at least 5 vendors from the surrounding family farms. “Much of what was produced was not sold on the open market but rather was bartered for goods and services in the local community or else used for home consumption” (Lyson 9).
The way that a local food system should work is that food should be produce for the family first, and then the surplus will be offered in town for money. When money is not readily available, then services will be exchanged such as plumbing, painting, clothing, etc. The need to share food is important for all people as just years ago food was “produced solely for household consumption or for bartering with neighbors” (Lyson 8). This is the only way in which our local food system will be able to flourish with the implementation of a semi bartering system that will allow farmers and families to exchange food items for other food items.
This is only possible with a local food system as the current food system is too monetarily based to be able to function in this respect. The solidarity of humankind to be courteous to one another begins not with the treatment of all people equally, but the treatment of the food system as a living organism. This is possible through much sacrifice but a change is necessary in order for the human race to end a problem that has haunted us for all of our existence.
Through a collective effort, the new sustainable, local food system focusing on the needs of people as opposed to what people want from it, will be able to bring humankind into a “more glorious dawn. ” (Sagan) DuPuis, E. Melanie. “Angels and Vegetables: A Brief History of Food Advice in America. ” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 7, no. 3 (08/01 2007): 34-44. Lyson, Thomas A. Civic Agriculture: Reconnecting Farm, Food, and Community. Medford, Massachusetts: Tufts University Press, 2004. Massad, Susan J. “Super-Sizing America: Geography, Income, Fast Food, and Whole Food.
” Human Geography 2, no. 2 (2009): 52-69. McKibben, Bill. “The Cuba Diet. ” Harper’s Magazine 310, no. 1859 (Apr 2005): 61-69. Poppendieck, Janet. “Want Amid Plenty: From Hunger to Inequality. ” In Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment, edited by Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster and Frederick H. Buttel, 189-202. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000. Pretty, Jules N. “Participatory Learning for Sustainable Agriculture. ” World Development 23, no. 8 (1995): 1247-63. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. New York: Perennial, 2002.