Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mindful eating

I've been enjoying Jane Goodall's book, Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating. She champions small farmers and producers, for the excellence of the food, their stewardship of the land and the nutritious diet they offer us.

The small flock owners who raise chickens and other kinds of poultry are an important part of the food system. Local farmers and flock owners also offer us the safest food. The recent reports of contamination of produce highlight the dangers of industrial agriculture. One of the people who contributed to my book had been involved with processing chickens for small flock owners for more than ten years, had even gotten a grant to build a mobile processing unit. He had not had a single report of food-borne illness from any chicken processed for a small flock owner, not a single one.

The threat of agri-terrorism is more dire to a centralized food system. A single large operation could be contaminated or disrupted, causing illness and chaos over a large area. Small operations are less attractive as targets precisely because their small size and local influence don't present as much influence.

Dr. Goodall reminisces about her World War II childhood, when rationing and shortages resulted in people growing their own food in Victory Gardens and managing meals around the food that was available. I was struck by the comparison with food restrictions in our lives, such as limited budgets for school lunches. Rather than being creative with local foods, school districts often seek supplementary income by entering contracts with soft drink and candy companies.

There are answers here, and we are fortunate to have leaders such as Dr. Goodall to guide us.

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