I have been tempted to write this post for quite sometime. Food we all eat it, we enjoy and savor it, food nourishes our bodies and helps us grow. It is also a topic that inspires passionate discussion and debate, mostly online. I am very active online and watch and follow many thought leaders on this topic from amazing chef's using farm fresh and sustainable ingredients. Jonathan Karpathios a chef in Amsterdam I feel hit the nail on the head describing what real food is in his TED talk , love his passion for growing food and working with farmers for his restaurant and eating in season. He's a joy to tweet with also and really cares.
Another person I learnt lots from and enjoy tweeting with is Simran Sethi, she is a wonderful person who passionately shares about seeds and biodiversity, agriculture and environmental issues. In our time we are eating a much less diverse diet these graphs give a powerful illustration its amazing how much corn is grown in America for example and its not to eat.
I am not a farmer just a beginner home gardener inspired by my wonderful Granddad who grew vegetables in his garden all of his adult life. This also inspired me to study to be a master gardener, I am nearly finished with the course and hope to volunteer in school gardens.
Its healthy to ask questions about food - what are GMO's? how was it grown? was it sustainably farmed? how much pesticides were used? it is good for us?.. and so on.
Never be afraid to ask these questions as it shows you care.
I don't personally eat GMO's and mostly try and buy organic in the crops that are GMO such as corn, soy beans, some squash and potentially more down the line. Thats not to say GMO's (genetically modified organisms) are dangerous as science seems to say they are not. I actually respect farmers who grow these crops, I have fears about the pesticide use and resistant weeds however and the long term. Most of my fears are related to developing countries and the unregulated use of pesticides this article got my attention. There are ongoing studies in California's central valley of pesticide exposure. There is no easy answer but any poisons need to be used carefully and sparingly. This recent article I think has merit in finding a middle ground and focusing on sensible and sustainable farming practices. The new government task force to look into the decline in bee's is also a positive step.
Its really boils down to respect and personal food choice. I do feel labels would help though so folks can choose.
After chatting to farmers, both online and at farmers markets and a lot of reading my personal conclusion is that farming is far from black and white and no one owns science its evolving. Organic farming still uses pesticides and at times these can also be dangerous. I have learnt the key is to know where you food comes from if possible chat to farmers and how they grow the food. Many may not have an organic label but will tell you they practice crop rotation, conservation, natural manures, cover crops and fertilizers and hardly if at all need the uses of chemical sprays.
Its also wonderful to try and grow a little food at home especially with kids to learn how its grown and the joy of eating home grown food is priceless. It also gives a deeper understanding of farmers and how hard it is to grow food.
a strawberry in my garden, love that the kids are proud and fight over these :0)
Another cool thing we like to do when traveling is to stay on farms this was a 1700 acres farm in Jamaica that grows cocoa beans for chocolate and coconut they also use the fruit around the property. We also stayed on a sheep farm in New Zealand, a horse farm in Iceland, a dairy farm in Sweden.
Really the folks to learn from are the farmers the experts so chat to them in person, or online, there may be local farms you can visit or call them they are often happy for you to tour. I took the kids to a local dairy farm / cheese maker near by recently.
I also feel Mark Bittman's recent article is useful - Rethinking the word foodie I simply adore this quote
" Good food is real, it’s healthy, it’s produced sustainably, it’s fair and it’s affordable."
I even once tweeted this and still stand by it -
"lets all be food elitist - and believe that we are indeed worthy of superior food = meaning carefully grown, healthy and affordable for all"
There are many voices on the food topic, on both sides of the debate, I find you need to examine who they work for and their background as it shapes opinions. Explore information and be eager to learn, and follow your heart making choices that make sense for your family. Most importantly have fun, cook and enjoy food.
What are your thoughts?