Monday, March 15, 2010

Cook 'n Dine with Brig Feltus

What happens when you learn how capitalism has completely corrupted the way we eat in this country?  You buy less processed foods.  You stop feeding your kids fast food.  You start educating yourself, and you try to cook more.  You buy fresh produce and meats from the supermarket and prepare them yourself. 

Are you safe then?  Well, no, it seems the horrifying truth is no.  Even if you do these things you are exposing your body to foods riddled with pesticides, genetical engineering, chemical fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics.  That's just for starters.  The horror story gets worse because beyond these very tangible and obvious crimes against humanity, we are purchasing meats that come from animals raised in the most atrociously unnatural conditions in the name of mass production and high yield.  Animals are being fed foods they would never normally eat because those foods are cheaper, and because those foods manipulate the animal's metabolism, making them grow faster... up to 3 times what they would have without any manipulation. 
Produce is plucked green and unripe before the sun has gifted it with the nutrients, color, and flavor, just so that it can survive its journeys to far away places where that produce may not be growing at that time of year.  It's often treated with chemical gases once arrived, so as to create artificial ripeness.  This is why fruit from a tree in your yard tastes so different from fruit bought at your local big chain supermarket.  
We eat this food without knowing... thinking if we cook fresh food, we're doing good by our families... not understanding the growth hormones given to animals is being ingested when we eat them and our children are reaching puberty at younger and younger ages because of it.... not understanding why when we buy fruit in the grocery store the flavor is so hit and miss.... not understanding that there is very little if any research to determine what the consequences are to eating genetically engineered foods.... meanwhile cancer, diabetes, autism, immune disorders, and hundreds of other ailments continue to plague us and we don't know how we get them.

I'm only so far talking about those of us who try to do good. I don't even want to get into what's in all the packaged foods and fast food we eat in this country.  Why the hell are we in such a hurry anyway?  Greed is killing us.  It's the other name for capitalism and convenience,  if you really think about it and it's killing us one bite at a time. 
I am always outraged at the way you can walk into a grocery store and there can be two seemingly identical items on a shelf, sometimes from the same corporate source, one says 'organic'  the other not.  The organic is always more expensive.  It's preposterous.  Why, after all should it cost more to get your food the old fashioned way, with less chemicals, less pesticides, less interference in general?  Shouldn't it be if we mess with it less, it would be cheaper?  Wouldn't it make sense that if the produce grew an hour drive away, it would cost less than the one imported from South America???  Well, unfortunately, the way our food system is set up, there's no way for organic to compete on a large scale.  So we reject it.  Throw our hands up and give in to the poison... We are literally drinking the koolaid and we don't even realize it. 
So what then?  What happens when you realize this?  Well, in my case, I had the opportunity to live in other countries where the food systems are not all about capitalism. 

They might be fascinated by our bright colors and shiny flashy labels, but back home in their countries they do things a little differently than we do.
When I was living in Germany 13 years ago, there was perhaps one or two supermarkets in the cities I lived in and they weren't very popular.  Why not?  They were not needed. They were really just a novelty you could find in the really big cities where there were a lot of Americanized amenities.  That's what they call it... Americanized.... Shameful...

But again, those stores were novelties, mostly marketed towards homesick expatriots living there or poor souls who somehow thought anything Americanized was cool. 
The average person didn't go there.  It wasn't not as convenient, as inexpensive, as fresh as what they could find right outside the door to their home...
Each little neighborhood... I'm talking about a couple of blocks square... had a butcher who got his meats from the farmer who raised it, somewhere within 30-50 miles on the outskirts of town, and he received it whole and cut it into the various cuts of meat himself on the premises and sold it within the same week... each had a produce stand (or two) where you could buy fresh fruits and vegetables grown nearby... yes, they still had bananas from south america and such, but the majority of the produce came from a farm close by... and if it was out of season, they didn't have it.... simple as that... I remember thinking to myself I must be tripping off of culture shock or something because I could have sworn that the vegetables tasted better and I didn't understand at the time why... each neighborhood had a bakery with fresh baked bread and such.... and if you wanted things like cereal or other packaged foods you'd go to a store that pretty much only sold that kind of stuff... even there, was no frosted flakes, cocoa puffs, cap'n crunch, or honey bunches of oats.... there were different sorts of whole grain cereals, oats, grits, wheat meal, muesli, and the occasional granola... there you could also buy your dairy products which came from a farm which was, again within 30-50 miles of the city you were in... Cheese could be bought there too, but you could get that fresher and better quality at the cheese monger in your neighborhood.  All of these would be within easily 5 minutes walking distance and everyone owned one of those rolling market baskets that fold up like an umbrella.  People didn't even often drive to get to these places. 

It was customary to buy only what you'd use in the next couple of days and that was fine because you knew that at any time, on your way in from work or school you could stop through and pick up fresh items.  
Foods didn't have to be advertised as organic because it was the law that they be that.  They didn't need not to be because the farmers could manage to keep up with their livestock... enough to supply just the butchers in their town, and not an entire country.  By the way the entire country is smaller than the state of texas...

Did you  know that in America there used to be several dozen suppliers of meat?  Now there are about a handful... yes, actually less than 5 major meat suppliers in the entire country!  Do you know what that means?  These companies have streamlined the raising, feeding, and production of meat in this country in such a way that they can cost effectively supply a country that is probably 50 times the size of Germany!!!   You can imagine the atrocities without actually seeing them with your own eyes. 

In countries abroad, the way they produce their food is more sensible, safer, less expensive, and truly, truly more convenient and NO ONE IS COMPLAINING!  Yes, logistically it means they eat less animal products than we do.  We eat too much animal products anyway... feeding the greed in us... But the truth should hurt!

 Here, you can buy a cut of meat and there is no regulation that says they have to tell you if it has been treated, for example as some ground meats with fillers are, with ammonia... or to inform you of whether or not the meat is from a cloned animal.  Or whether the 3 lb chicken you're buying has been fed animal waste products mixed in its meal and  is really 2 lbs and the rest is salt water injected into it to make it look more plump.... (by the way, they're selling it to you by the pound and you're paying for that pound of salt water... basically paying to be lied to... )  Our regulations are in reverse.  There are regulations for those claiming to be organic but none saying that non-organic food producers have to disclose anything... Okay, they disclose "ingredients" but nothing about the processing, nothing about the growth, nothing about the pesticides, hormones or antibiotics... because we would be outraged! 

So what now?  In my case, I am now slowly weening my family off of non-organic eating habits.  We are shopping farmer's markets for produce when we can and buy from the organic section in the supermarket.  We're eating less meat because it's expensive to buy free range, grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free animal products.  We also shop at small bodega type markets which we know buy their fresh foods locally within our state.  
I cook more often.  I seldom eat at fast food places anymore except in an emergency, and I try to hit up one such as Chipotle which is a known practitioner of sustainable foodsWe are not religious about all of this.  But everytime I buy food, I am conscious now.  I am aware now.  I don't ever put anything in my mouth without understanding the consequences.  It is a matter of awareness. 

And this is how Cook 'n Dine with Brig Feltus was born.  I wanted to share what I'm learning with people who would listen.  We're making it fun by visiting farmer's markets, watching films, cooking together, and then dining together. 

The first one was a great success, with a sold out attendance and raves afterward.  We went to a farmer's market, watched a film about farmers markets around the country, and then cooked a delicious Sunday Brunch style meal. 

This month, we'll be headed out early in the morning to a local organic farm that supplies fresh produce to high end restaurants and farmer's markets in Los Angeles county.   We'll be watching Food Inc.  and then cooking with the foods we bring back from the farm. 
If you are an Los Angeles local and any of this post inspires or moves you to make a change in your own life, please join us!  Let's learn together and spread this information to others that we love.  As corruption crumbles this obscene way of life all around us, just like in other living species, only the fittest will survive.  I don't intend to be among the feeble.  I intend to be among the strong, and  I'm starting with this small baby step and I hope you'll take it with me. 
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1 comment:

  1. Ugh.. I'm too far away to participate, but you are doing a GREAT service you Rennaissance woman! And I agree that even when we're doing our best to "eat healthY" the "healthy" food isn't that good for you due to the pesticide residues and whatever else. I'm trying to grow at least a small portion of my own food. I've got baby seedling tomatoes and oregano going so far. I hope they make it to maturity. Growing my own food shows me how difficult (but rewarding) it must be to be a farmer full time.

    Cheers to you again!


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