Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reality always trumps dreams.

Often youthful ignorance gets in the way of reality. I frequently talk about the food system in this country and what I believe to be wrong with it. I love the idea of eating from the community that I live in, eating animals and vegetables I can literally reach out and touch. 

This simply doesn't happen. I am learning a lot about our food system at new job. Being a kitchen team of 6, I am a lot more in touch with where our food comes from. Friday, I shelled soy beans grown just 4 miles from Big Jed's house. I joked that she probably knew the farmer or, at the very least, knew of his farm. I spend a lot of time slicing tomatoes grown on the owner's farm. I made guacamole today using jalapeno's grown in our city. This is easy during the summer. Corn, peppers, tomatoes, soy beans, and squash are abundant in Ohio from June to August. Then fall hits and it is squash and squash and squash. And some cauliflower and broccoli thrown in for good measure. There are only so many squash dishes one can put on their menu. 

So, food starts to come from Mexico and South America. If we are lucky, California. The fight to eat locally is valiant and a fight that needs to be fought, do not get me wrong. But, running a restaurant on food grown solely in the state of Ohio is next to impossible. Unless you know someone with a very large greenhouse and your money tree is growing Benjamins. 

Most crops grown in Ohio are used for animal feed. Driving through the rural counties you see a speckling of soy beans and corn, very rarely anything else. The soy that is used for human consumption is mostly sent overseas. The edamame you buy at Trader Joe's....not as local as they would like you to think.

I read a blog that talks about canning tomatoes and corn and beans. Freezing produce grown in the summer to eat all winter long. Essentially, to do what our ancestors did. To spend all summer growing food to feed your family all winter. Would I love for this to be my reality? Oh, hell yes I would. But, it's not. It's not even close. I am lucky if I cook a meal once a week. Our freezer is full of TV dinners that can be heated on the run, between jobs, or after a long ass day. 

It feels hypocritical to not practice what I preach. It makes me feel like no matter how much I care, I will never be able to lead by example. I will never work for a chain restaurant. I will never work someplace that fills their menu with high fructose corn syrup. It will never happen. But, I will work places that buy avocado's from California and peppers from Mexico. I will work places that try their hardest to source their ingredients locally, that do their best to live by the ideals I feel are important. I can promise you that.

I just wish that more people would demand our food system change so that it is easier for all of us to change.  I wish I had even the tiniest bit of influence in this world. I will continue to do my best, within my means, to live by these ideals. But, sometimes, it just feels like a lost cause.

1 comment:

Krackle said...

Do you know how much I would like to feed my family all home grown produce/meat? Even if it were in reach, it is not affordable. I try my best, but they sure do make it hard.