Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Family Values

Yesterday I decided to take a look at all the food in my home and determine how much of it – or how little- was organic, non-G.M.O, and fresh.  I found four kinds of food in my fridge, plus an array of in season fruits and vegetables, one type in my freezer, and zero in my pantry.  After watching the documentary Food, Inc., I became disturbed by my own eating habits as well as the eating habits of the rest of the world. I had thought I ate fairly well and after seeing this documentary, apparently by comparison to a large majority of Americans, I do.  I eat a low calorie diet consisting of mainly fresh foods, but apparently some of the things within my meals are where my diet is considered poor.  Who has set this example for Americans telling them that it is okay to eat badly?  When did we decide it is okay to put convenience over our values? It is not okay to poison our bodies while filling the wallets or corporate big shots.
In late 2003, I stopped eating fast food, more specifically McDonald's. I had learned some of the horrors within the company are particularly when it came to their food and how in time it literally poisons the human body.  In 2010 I started eating only organic meats as a result of my eight-year old daughter becoming pubescent.  When majority of the third grade class is wearing bras, it is time to look at where we have taken a wrong turn. This is when I first learned of hormones and antibiotics (among other things) being given to the animals we are eating. As a result we are putting those hormones and antibiotics into our own bodies. I knew I had to make some changes for myself and for my growing daughter, but I suppose just those changes aren't enough.  I never would have imagined that the foods I was eating (other than meat) were unhealthy or that there even was such a thing as a G.M.O.  I guess I never would have thought that something as simple as food, particularly fresh food, could be bad for me. The industry pulled the wool over my eyes just the way they intended to.
Society has been engineered to eat foods that are not necessarily good in any way, shape, or form, but more or less convenient for the working parents and those on a strict budget.  Fresh asparagus can cost upwards of $3 at a grocery store, while a bag of potato chips can be just $2.  In Food, Inc., it is expressed that a person can buy an entire cheeseburger at a fast-food restaurant for under a dollar, but a head of broccoli will cost at least $1.50 or if you buy organic it will cost upwards of $2.50.  As a buyer of some organic foods, it is tough sometimes to decide between that which harms your wallet over that which harms your physical being.  When I switched to organic eggs, I found myself thinking "A carton of organic cage-free eggs is $4, while you can get the store brand kind for $.99. Is it really going to hurt me to eat the cheap ones?"  We seem have put our "convenience" on the dollar menu and our "values" in the organic aisle. 
Chickens, for example, have been "redesigned" just like our values have.  Chickens now grow to twice the average size in half the time.  Instead of the normal five months it takes a chick to become a fully grown chicken, they can now reach twice that size in just forty-nine days.  People also prefer the boneless, white, breast meat of a chicken so they have been designed to grow larger in the breasts, because a big, fat chicken will feed more people and give Mr. Meat Man more money.  We have redesigned life to appeal to our desire for convenience.  In most cases, chickens are harvested indoors, in the dark, in cages, twenty-four hours a day, until they die on their own or are sent for slaughter.  When did we take the value off of the lives of chickens?  When did it become okay to let any creature live this way even if it is to satiate our bellies?
Perhaps next we can begin redesigning human life to rid genetic flaws.   If the chickens can have bigger breasts, then maybe we can tweak our genetic makeups and let humans have bigger breasts too… or smaller feet… or smaller waists.  Plastic surgery could be a thing of the past if we could just alter our D.N.A. to give us that blond hair or green eyes we always wanted.  Despite the human need for constant self-improvement, I personally think human value on life is too high to go altering our genetic makeups, but on the life of a chicken, it wouldn't matter to most people.  Not if there is more breast meat to go around.  So where does the line get drawn?  When do we decide whose lives are more important than the next?  A living creature is a living creature and life was not meant for humans to come along and start altering genetic codes as easily as it is to get dressed in the morning.  Our values have gone out with yesterday's trash.
In Food, Inc., it is said "If you send something by the scanner, you are voting for it." This past week I went through the organic section in the supermarket and found that the cooler that sells the organic milk and yogurts was almost completely barren.  I hadn't switched my milk to organic yet and wanted to start that day, but I couldn't.  Was I angry that the shelves weren't stocked to meet the demand?  No. It made me happy to know the cooler was empty even though it had inconvenienced me from buying the one thing I needed most. It means people are voting for organic milks and yogurts, but why not everything else?  Maybe because spending all your money in the organic aisles will leave you penniless.  We seem to forget that while buying organic does destroy our piggy banks; it does not destroy our bodies.   We are supposed to value our bodies over our wallets; then again we are not supposed to consider eating well an inconvenience. 
We have lost sight of the important things in this life: the values on wholesomeness over material conveniences in a world where our children are the ones who suffer with their too-soon pubescent bodies and their poor eating habits instilled since birth.  Maybe one day we will pull that shroud out from in front of our eyes and put value keeping this body happy and healthy - seeing as this is the only body we get.