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So last season...

In the most recent lecture of my “Global Perspectives of Food” course, my prof touched on the Great Labeling Debate. How do we read “organic,” “local,” “fair-trade,” and “unionized” as meaningful terms? Organic food methods used to stand in contrast to industrial production. Now, there is an “organic industry” which relies on monocultures and nationwide transportation to add “value” to food. That term—organic industry—is a sort of oxymoron, when “organic” means part of a living system, and “industry” is defined by mechanistically aiming to eliminate any variation, preference, or creativity. Is something really organic if it’s exploiting workers, enabling out-of-season produce, and breeding complacency with our food supply? Agribusiness is oppressive, plain and simple, as it capitalizes on this stamp of approval from the USDA. The answer? Some say that “local is the new organic.” That is certainly the catch phrase in Portland, Oregon. Check out this article from a few years back, and a review of it . The Organic Consumers Assocation has another interesting take on the debate.

Some recommend eating grub. Anna Lappé and Bryant Terry say 1. grub is healthy local sustainable food for all 2. grub is food that supports community, justice, and sustainability 3. grub should be universal” I agree. Down with these meaningless “brand names” of how food is grown, and up with genuine relationships with the energies that are engaged to bring food to the table. Food doctrines are as dangerous as any other single-variable principle. This dogmatic approach is taken with labels for food like fair-trade, unionized, local, and organic as well as labels for food-eater like vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist, and freegan…these identities are meaningful in choice contexts, but they don’t help to satisfy our appetite for ethical, delicious, affordable, and accessible nourishment.

The quiet revolution, say Lappé and Terry, has begun. One example of whole-system activist is a local (to me in Montreal) holistic nutritionist named Jae Steele. Check out her recipe-story-advice-filled blog to find out about the joys of whole foods. She is quite the resource for everything from how to fast to how to knit a sweater—fast. Another example of a local-organic-practical initiative is a business called Delicious Organics in South Florida. I found out about them because they offer the raw cacao and goji berry Chunks of Energy—as well as 4000 other products—for delivery in South Florida. They have everything from produce and grocery staples to pet food and goat. It is a pretty cool model of innovative thinking. The learn pages of their website is chock full of information too—recipes, bios on produce, articles about food and well-being. Check out these chunks of energy, and let me know what quiet revolutions are taking place in your homes and hometowns.


ReAnn said...

I learned about your blog from your dad & his awesome conversations about your chunks of energy that I've recently taken akin to :)

Interesting to read about this locak being the new organic trend elsewhere besides Minneapolis. Being in Minnesota, it's hard to get 'local' food all the time, but when it *is* local, it's becoming a huge idea.

Some of our favorite new finds of the summer was the fact that that people started to acknowledge, and deep-heartedly respect the few restaurnts we have in town that create menus (one of them new daily.. most others are weekly) based on what the local farmers bring to the city that day. If interested, I can find one such article that got high regard here in town. There's a big slow food & 'sew the seeds' movement going on here. Hopefully it becomes better than trendy.. more.. respectful.

Leah said...

Hi ReAnn,
I am so glad to know that someone is reading the blog! As the momentum of the semester acts, I have less to no time to post, and no response so I didn't prioritize it. I am swamped with work but you will be the catalyst for continuing.
I have a paper due tomorrow so this is a wicked quick response, but i DO want to respond because you seem to get how my dad is a chunk of energy himself. (In fact, I am seeing the whole world as chunks of energy dancing around and in each other.)
About local food in general: YES! Since the whole point of local food is to be specific to the region, I"ll pass on some info about localvorism in Minneapolis. My dear friend from the student-run organic produce distributor (aka Organic Campus) at McGill University is now graduated and doing an internship in her hometown of St. Paul. From what I understand, she's working on a fair/festival/farmer's market that's focused on getting to know the dirty (in the MOST positive sense of the word) work (and play) of being a farmer. I'm not sure when it is, but Georgia, if you read this, post details!
Also, since it seems like you dig Grub, I will see if i can attach a book review that I just submitted for a "Global Perspectives of Food" course.
I will respond to your other comments the next time i need a break from my art history paper (about why craft must be local, naturally)...
Happy Equinox!