Monday, March 1, 2010

My Cause is Food

We all have a cause. Most of us probably have a lot of them in fact. Things that we feel strongly about, read about, perhaps even contribute our time or money to. But, in all of the things we care about, there is usually one thing that stands out above the others. That's not to say that the others aren't important, just that there is usually one that we spend a little more time learning about, or thinking about than the others.

For me that cause is Food.

I like food, and it has shown on my body for many years. As I approach my 30th birthday, I'm approaching 30 pounds of weight loss with the help of Weight Watchers. The program has changed my life for the better. But, there is still a lot of work to be done. I do eat better than I ever have, but my diet could be so much healthier and so could the diets of my children.

On top of my struggle with my weight, I've gradually become aware of how incredibly unsafe our food supply is, and what a horrible business feeding American's has become. Truth be told, the majority of us eat more chemicals than we eat actual food. The majority of the health problems in this country come from our horrible diets. There are countless other issues that show up during election season and so many of those issues can be traced back to the business of food.

It started with watching the documentary SuperSize Me by Morgan Spurlock. If you haven't watched it, then you really should. Of all of the books and movies I've watched on the subject of food, this one is the easiest to digest (pun intended). It's funny, but it's real and it's scary. I wouldn't say I ate in chain fast food restaurants all that much prior to watching this, but I cut them out completely for a long time after first watching it. But, gradually I went back. Then I read Fast Food Nation and WOW! The ground beef sitting in my refrigerator went in the trash. It was so disturbing and so disgusting that it made me look at everything I ate in a different light. It also changed the way I looked at some cultural icons, and the issue of illegal immigration.

Next came Food Inc. another powerful documentary with some uplifting scenes and conversations with a local farmer who is doing things the way they should be done. I already loved Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser so it was great to watch them in action together.

Finally there is Howard Lyman. It's less likely that you have heard of him, but he's what I call the horse's mouth. You probably remember Oprah being sued by the Texas cattle ranchers for what she said on her show about mad cow disease. Well, the guest on that show was Howard Lyman and he was sued along with her. Lyman is a former cattle rancher. He turned his father's organic farm to a factory farm that used an enormous amount of chemicals. He ended up with a giant tumor on his spine that could have left him paralyzed and vowed to undo what he had done to his father's legacy. He's now a vegan and a food safety advocate.

When someone who has made a living from farming animals turns need to pay attention!

He's got my attention. I'm going to make every effort to change my eating patterns. I would like to move from the Standard American Diet to a vegetarian diet, and hopefully a vegan diet at some point down the road. No, I'm not joining PETA. They have some good ideas, but their batshit crazy behavior ruins any good they do. It's not just about the animals. Sure, I love animals and so thinking about how they live and how they are killed is one piece of all of this. My primary reason for making this change is because of children like Kevin Kowalcyk. This beautiful child died from eating a hamburger that was tainted with E. coli O157:H7. A happy meal should not KILL our children.

Sure, a car accident probably kills more people. Sure, there are other things I could worry about...and I do. I do realize that many recent instances of E. coli O157:H7 have been in plant foods. But, the reason for that can often be traced back to factory farming and animal waste. There are also ways to get around those instances, such as buying local produce.

In a developed country we should not have to worry about whether or not the food we eat is going to kill us. The food we eat should nourish us, sustain us, give us energy for our day. It should not turn our brains into mush until we die without the ability to remember who the faces of the people in front of us belong to.

So that's it. That's my cause. I plan to attempt a major shift in my diet and the diet of my children. I also plan to look into ways to help make our food safer and healthier for our children. I will do my best to chronicle my progress here.

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