Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Food Revolution Begins Now

Jamie Oliver on his Food Revolution Day site
In cities and towns across the globe this past weekend, there were many events to highlight food education. (Jamie Oliver's global Food Revolution Day). Their themes related to what our industrialized food supply system produces from seed to table creating the foods we eat. In some instances the events showed that there are fewer whole ingredients coming from natural food sources. Often chemicalized, processed ingredients used to "create" a food..are .ingredients that have never been outside of a lab; indeed the food CREATED has been primarily sourced not from the soil but from a lab. Are we being gradually poisoned by the industrial food complex to serve the medical industrial complex? Not that there is a grand design, but it would seem that would be one of the unfortunate Change outcomes of the monopolistic business models used by corporations and lobbyists in their frantic search for profits at the expense of people. As agra business monopolies have burgeoned buying up smaller farms, there has been a waning of the free market competition which is so vital to creating choice for consumers. Corporations have grown mammoth; their power has gown exponentially; they dictate what the consumer must eat. Change is needed. Food education is the beginning.

The food education emphasized this weekend is continually being promoted by groups that support the return of the American food supply to farming collaboratives and collectives, local farmers, organic non profits like Stone Barnes Center for food and agricultur, whole foods producers and suppliers, local sourcing, food greening movements (less long distance transport from areas like Mexico which reduces reliance on oil and reduces cost). The ultimate aim is to make food producers, suppliers and agra business more responsive to consumers' health needs. And if they persist in ignoring consumers' demands toward health, greening, labeling of irradiated foods and genetically modified foods, there is a growing movement to boycott foods, franchises and food store chains which stock products that manifest extreme processing and chemicalizing. As more consumers support green and whole food PACs and businesses which ARE responsive, the hope is that large food chains and their suppliers will take note and correct. Some may even reverse the current trends of agra business and its inherent horrors which have produced E-coli outbreaks, mad cow disease, weird food toxins, antibiotics in our water supply, Salmonella outbreaks and unhealthy food products thought to exacerbate chronic conditions  like heart disease and diabetes (Studies relate these to chemicalized/processed foods high in salt, sugar and hydrogenated fats). 

Chef and food icon Jamie Oliver who has "been on top of these issues" for a number of years is to be credited for his exploits in attempting to get Americans to eat more healthily. His Food Revolution TV show was canceled in 2011 for lack of commercial support but he took the fight  to the streets and internet and created a foundation.

You remember Oliver!  On one of his first shows in 2010, he went to the fattest state in the nation, West Virginia, the fattest town, Huntington and he attempted to inspire the residents there to change their eating habits. He despaired, because when he went to the school and led the cafeteria staff in selecting and preparing other food items for the children (delicious gourmet veggie/pasta preparations; eggs for breakfast instead of pizza)  there was resistance from the staff and a revolt by the students who wanted their pizza, pink slime hamburgers (That's what they were eating though it was not known at the time as it now is,) fries and processed foods.

Though his show faltered (Gee, I wonder why there were few corporations who wanted to jump on board with advertising.), Oliver's mission blossomed. He brought attention to the problems with America's food supply: highlighting the lobbying efforts of its industrial farms and food producers whose practices with genetically modified produce and unsanitary conditions often fly under the radar. Calling attention to inhumane animal practices of industrialized farms which often produce contaminated product, films like Fast Food Nation, Oliver and others have garnered support of local growers, farmers that treat their animals humanely and food sourcing. Most importantly, he and others continue to educate how the unhealthiness of the food industry's chemically processed and preserved foods foster disease and exacerbate obesity.

Oliver also alerted us to Pink Slime. To think that the company, Beef Products, Inc. allowed him to go into one of its facilities, not understanding how he would be using the video shot there, is amazing. (It has laid off another round of employees since the campaign against pink slime began.) Pink slime went viral with a petition by Bettina Siegel and the supporters piled on eventually prompting congressional action for schools to opt out of purchasing and using pink slime for their hamburgers. Jamie Oliver's website continues to fight against pink slime and remove it from the nation's schools, and perhaps the food supply completely (many fast food restaurants have claimed to stop using the product).
Oliver's website for Food Revolution Day
Oliver's and his food teams' campaign promoting global Food Revolution Day inspired the global community to join in the celebration of healthy eating.  Food Revolution Day also reinforced the ongoing fight to stand against the egregious industrialization, processing, genetic modification and irradiation of the global food supply. There were over 750 events scheduled in over 490 cities across 44 countries, and the events varied from dinner parties, cooking classes, farmer's market tours, community potlucks, and street fairs. Events took place in major cities like New York City and smaller municipalities like Patchogue, New York out on Long Island. They even encompassed smaller neighborhoods or block parties centered around educating children about healthy eating and nutritious food choices.

Many of these events were spearheaded by members or supporters of the organic and vegan food movements, the whole foods movement, the animal rights movement which endorses the humane treatment of animals on industrial farms and in the killing field of slaughterhouses, the movement to support local farm sourcing and small local farms, the movement to label and/or eliminate GM foods (genetically modified) or products that contain GM ingredients, and the movement to ban irradiated foods, to name a few. Tor them the Food Revolution encompasses not only one day, it is a movement that spans the rest of their lives.

Oliver's website encourages the involvement of young people. For Food Revolution Day the food team stated that "celebration events give youth the opportunity to join forces with their local communities and other young people across the globe, to stand up and demand better food education." Oliver and the team want the youth to get on the health train. After all, it is their generation that will inherit all of what their parents and the culture have left, with  a global epidemic of diet related diseases, which, according to Oliver has already led to "43 million children under the age of 5 being overweight and which kills an estimated 2.8 million people a year."

Sounds like a great idea? It is. We are what we eat and over the years the nation has learned that it is not necessarily what we don't put in our mouths that will harm us, (i.e. not eating a lot) it is what we do put in our mouths that will kill us and/or make us sick. Coupled with the ongoing anti-obesity campaign, The Weight of the Nation, the main thrust is on healthy eating which promotes a healthy life. However, Oliver's Food Revolution attacks the problem where it should be attacked, the American food supply system. And since our supply is being exported to other nations, this has become a global fight or revolution because the corporations are global; they are promulgating their processes and product with ferocity. Capture a country's appetite, you capture their citizens' wallets.

Oliver and other food movements are aptly encouraging us to raise our voices and fight back against the lobbyists who have enthralled our congressmen and leaders. He and others are motivating us to sign petitions to curtail industrial farms' egregious practices He and others are encouraging the labeling of GM products and irradiated foods, and stopping the inhumane animal treatment on farms and in the killing fields. In addition he and others continue to motivate us to avoid toxic, chemically processed food products.

From Jamie Oliver's webiste against pink slime.
Will such campaigns work? As more people become educated and informed, the global food revolution will bend the corporations' profits; global consumer efforts impact global corporations.  Corporations are in business to supply the consumers, but if the consumers' needs are not being supplied, corporate profits will decrease. Corporations will have to get on the health train with R and D, innovation, and creative business models that encourage perhaps a short term cut in profits, but a long term investment in healthy foods and  products which will pay off huge in the long run.

It is possible. Other global corporations have done it. Starbucks is a sterling example. It is ultra responsive to consumers. And they still offer health plans to part time workers. But such corporate effort takes leadership, brilliance, and compromise. The industrial food complex needs NEW BLOOD, YOUNG BLOOD. It needs an infusion of creativity and THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX.

But for now, as such education is promoted with global Food Revolution Day and awareness grows. corporations have to bend. The alternative food movement and its tributaries now have the capability to reach billions in the twinkling of an eye. Oliver knows this; it is the trend.  And he is taking advantage of social media making sure he will  be like a spreading virus: on Youtube, on his blog and website, on Facebook and Twitter and other places where this information will be legion. If old media jettisoned his show, new media is embracing him with an even greater ferocity.

Welcome Jamie Oliver to the new American food supply system. I for one am so happy you have arrived! And enjoy Food Revolution Day every day.

Raise your voice.

If you are interested in adding your voice to the fight, congress is working on a farm bill. Right now the House Agricultural Committee is accepting public comments on this critical piece of legislation. Congress is considering cutting funding to vital programs such as nutrition, conservation and support for organic and sustainable agriculture. To speak out against such cuts (which in effect would throw support to industrialized farms) and to call for a better Farm Bill, click the following link and read more and act.


1 comment:

Christine @ Mama Papa Barn said...

Hi Carole. Thanks for staying and snooping :) Following on GFC and networked blogs.