I've started this blog to record my thoughts and research about food and health: how we grow our food, what we eat, the nutrition debate, food distribution, food sovereignty and environmental impact.

My life started down a new path after I read an article a couple of years ago in the New York Times magazine. I became fixated on learning all I could about our eating habits, the way our food is made, and the effects that the industrial food industry has had on our culture and our lives - physically and mentally.

This blog joins an ongoing discussion and is a place to voice interest, intrigue, and discovery. This is not a podium for lecturing, so please extend grace to each other if anything is found to be erroneous. Counter-arguments are encouraged with respect, empathy and compassion for other perspectives.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Slight Rhyme & Reason

I've spent several hours over the last few days adding elements onto my blog like links and a blog list, and I've started to search the internet for published research on a few topics. I feel like I'm getting in over my head, but I started a list of resources and topics that I want to come back to - that will help me stay oriented in a certain direction.

Anyway, I've just begun to realize how enormous a project this could become, and I don't want to paralyze myself, so I thought I'd write this out just to have something to post. I also think it's important for perspective, since I am not an authority on any of these matters in a professional sense, yet I am deciding my own level of involvement. It's what Lierre Keith calls "adult knowledge" in her book 'The Vegetarian Myth'. This is my 'Fight Club' moment, when I realize that everything falls apart sometime and we have nothing to lose by investing in what we are passionate about.

Adult knowledge refers to a Mayan concept of the interconnectedness between humans and all other living things. This knowledge comes about at the point when a person ceases to project selfish desires onto the world and accepts the way the earth actually functions.

To sum up what Keith gets at in the first chapter, every living thing grows by ingesting the nutrients that come from the soil. These nutrients get passed along when a plant or animal 'dies', or ceases to grow because it was eaten or destroyed in a storm. If an animal or plant dies, the organic matter decomposes and over time becomes soil - and nutrients - again. All living things are indebted to the longevity (life) or brevity (death) of all other living things.

Keith states, "we need to be eaten as much as we need to eat. The grazers need their daily cellulose, but the grass also needs the animals. It needs the manure, with its nitrogen, minerals, and bacteria; it needs the mechanical check of grazing activity; and it needs the resources stored in animal bodies and freed up by degraders when animals die.

The grass and the grazers need each other as much as predators and prey. These are not one-way relationships, not arrangements of dominance and subordination. We aren't exploiting each other by eating. We are only taking turns."

Humans cannot remove themselves from the cycle without causing its collapse. Why? Because the changes we've made (namely, industrial agriculture, amassing population and energy in cities, dependence on fossil fuels) mean that we're taking pieces out of the equation. We've transformed the circle of life into a straight line that ends not with natural perpetuation but with more human intervention. That's why sustainability is becoming such an urgent message, and that's why I'm writing this.

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