Industrilizing Food & Ourselves

Herd About It

by Ana Grarian

Farming is probably about the first big mistake we humans made after eating the apple. Maybe that’s it. We became so full of ourselves that we thought we could have our own garden like the god’s. Before agriculture we all lived a nomadic life, following the food and weather, hunting and gathering our food. There was a direct correlation between how well we used the food sources and our survival. Agriculture was in itself a huge step forward, and a huge stepping stone toward civilization. So how has farming become so uncivilized?

The industrial revolution had a big impact on both people and farms. People saw working in factories as a way to improve their lives by earning more money. Over decades we became more wed to the factory and the city and more divorced from the land and our food sources. This is an important jump in life. As we became wed to the use of money earned in business to trade for food, clothing and housing we became less self sufficient, and dependent on the bosses for our very lives. We no longer had the skills nor the resources to provide for ourselves. We also some how deemed ourselves better, smarter more civilized than the folks who worked with their hands and their backs to provide us with the food and fiber we needed to live.

Factories also taught us about the efficiencies of the industrial process. Time studies, conveyor belts, single task jobs (screw this bolt into this hole on each piece that comes by), etc. People became part of the machinery. Look around your cubicle……aren’t you a little like a pig in a pen or a cow in a stall? When we allow ourselves to be viewed as an step in a process, as an ingredient in a product; how can we embody compassion for an animal that is simply a vehicle for feeding us?

Now our food is not even food. We now eat product, what is called value added product. Somewhere along the line we decided that food was nothing more than the sum of it’s chemical parts. We decided that Vitamin A or B or whatever we could measure was the important thing. So we decided that anything that had similar or greater values of those nutrients were as good as or better than real food. Margarine was deemed better than butter. Chocolate chip crunchies could be marketed as a healthy breakfast cereal.

The other reality is that by adding salty and sugar and chemically flavored substances we could make food products that compelled us to eat more of them, but unlike those great concord grapes my cousin and I stuffed ourselves with every year, these products are available year round, and we can’t grow them ourselves. And they are killing us.

Do you remember when a meal was made tasty by Mom or Dad in the kitchen? Raw ingredients were combined, simmered, baked into some family favorite. Maybe your Mom made the best macaroni and cheese or the neighbor lady made great lemon squares using real lemons. My Dad made wonderful light biscuits. Those things were worth waiting for, and worth learning to make yourself. Those things we stir together and pop into the microwave, just don’t compare.