This week’s reading relates to one of the many reasons why I entered a Food Studies program: the future of food. Individually, each article looks at the topic of food through a different lens but all come to the same conclusion: food, and how we produce it, plays an enormous role in the climate change conversation. Prior to enrolling in a Food Studies program I often found myself frustrated with the information available to the public regarding the story of our food. It is often limited to either a shallow fairytale-esque depiction of green pastures, happy animals and simple-minded, quaint farmers who embody the purity of time past or corporate greed, Monsanto and the factory farm. Working in the meat business in the Bay Area for a company that aims to straddle the divide between reality, ideals, and taste, I confirmed what I knew to be hiding beneath the marketing strategies and outraged Op-Eds: it is really fucking complicated. Furthermore, I become more confused about my own opinions on “how” the future of food should be addressed. Previously, I was apt to believe in the agrarian dream of “returning” to the way things had been done centuries ago. I am not alone in falling under this spell. But I knew that much of this had to do with the marketing I have been exposed and the things I chose to believe without the required knowledge to make a decision (as we all do).
These articles bring to light the inconvenient truths of our current food system: farming is an underfunded driving force of innovation, the environmental impact of healthy diets and the tastes we know are certainly not here to stay. As I jotted notes in the margins of my print-outs (not eco-friendly but I just can’t read on the screen and that is okay eco-warriors! I consider the environment before printing, as noted in your emails, but know thy self – I won’t comprehend it on a screen and I refuse to return to a state of limbo nervousness about my impact that paralyzes us to move forward if we think of every action we take as a slash at the environment!) I realized something in my mind was not translating to my margins: politics. But I know that politics are behind all of these complications. The Farm Bill is rigged to spend the majority of it’s budget on food stamps, the US Dietary Guidelines shot down the inclusion of environmental sustainability consideration in the 2016 guidelines and disregards taste and culture from it’s advice on healthy dietary patterns (we could learn from Brazil).
Policy has enormous implications for what these articles are talking about. I know this. Yet I don’t want to think about it because I don’t want to work in advocacy or policy. Again, I have no interest in sacrificing myself. It is the honest truth. Again, I am probably not alone in this, the same way I am not alone in having fallen prey to the back-t0-the-land-just-like-grandpa-did-it rhetoric surrounding the elitist, disconnected current farce of a Green Revolution. I do not mean to belittle the progress we have made, because change is evident if you look at food politics 30 years ago and today. But we seem to be stuck. Or maybe it is just the pace of politics. I don’t know, but I know for certain I want nothing to do with it, yet can see quite clearly that politics are what is in the way of substantive change. So how can we think about the future of food while ignoring the elephant in the room? It is uncomfortable. Similarly, this discomfort is something I am trying to achieve in my Sugar-Coated Extinction project, so I have much to think about.