Schlosser, Pollan, Pollen, and You
January 8, 2015
January, a time for reflection, resolution, revolution. At Sprouthood, we have resolved to be a part of the food revolution already happening. This revolution begins with soil and our farmers’ relationships with it and ends with the way we eat. Between those ends, however, there is a world of changes both needed and underway.
I personally hadn’t considered the implications of where food comes from until I was a teen, despite having grown up around family gardens. That changed rather abruptly in the 400 or so pages of Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser’s account of “the dark side of the all-american meal.” Suddenly I was thrust into a world of test-tubes and robotic-runways of cattle. It all felt a little Science-Fiction but it was more than a little scary knowing it was real. I resolved not to eat fast food anymore, or at least a little as possible, but it would take another outspoken author to push me further. It was during an anthropological look at the history of farming, that Michael Pollan brought me back to thinking about food and eventually led me back into the garden.
While reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I came to a better understanding of our relationship to our food and our farmer. The descriptions of Polyface Farms’ pastured cattle, pigs and chickens gave me a warm feeling of hope that I hadn’t felt about food since this journey began. Food could be produced in the twenty-first century without the use of chemical fertilizer or crowded feedlots. People in a major metropolitan area could know their farmer. Bacon could taste like the packages promised. It’s not only possible to farm plants and animals in a traditional way, but it’s healthier for everyone and everything! The tale of industrial farming goes on - in 2008 Schlosser’s investigation and Pollan’s tale were brought to the big screen in Food, Inc. You don’t need a review from me to stream it on Netflix, but now you can gain an understanding of the perils facing the food industry in about 90 minutes.
The takeaway from watching/reading these should be hopeful, and taking a look around the supermarket at the isles of organic offerings or talking to someone involved with a local community garden or farmer’s market will reveal that hope. There are countless examples of new ideas and energy around local, sustainable food but there is still much work to be done - the organisms in the soil and the bees overhead, some of the very things necessary for sustainable agriculture are in trouble and need our help. Our collective power has and will again change the world and therefore we can all be part of the solution.
According to the National Gardening Association, one in every three households is growing food, which is nearly a twenty percent increase from five years ago. That means your neighbors are growing food, and with any luck, soon you will be too! Let’s keep pushing this trend: it’s a good one to get behind. More people growing food is more people eating local, fresh, and sustainable. More of that is good for everyone and everything, and the bees will be thankful for the extra flowers.
When Sprouthood launches this spring, we will be working to link the vegetable-growing third of households to the other two thirds of vegetable-eating households. By strengthening the bonds between the network of growers and the bonds between those growers and the eaters, gardeners will see their labor become a much more significant part of the food revolution. A new network of gardeners will cultivate the land alongside their families and neighbors and together will help to sustainably feed our cities into the future. Now that sounds like an exciting resolution, doesn’t it?