Somehow my latest email address has been given to some list and my mailbox is filled with all kinds of junk mail about getting slim, changing careers, house foreclosure, buying prescription drugs and coupons to all the “convenient” mainstream places that sell the drugs and foods we have become addicted to. This reflection of modern America oozes dis-ease. I cringe knowing that the reason these emails are being sent out is because the majority of Americans respond to them.
artwork courtesy of David Deeshttp://www.deesillustration.com/
Now I am not one to ascribe to or prescribe any particular diet, however, I do know that we are what we eat and we are consuming with all parts of our being. Our minds are infiltrated with marketing schemes and mind-altering chemicals. What seeps into our brains and what we put into our mouths is impacting every aspect of our lives.
Last Friday we showed the movie Eating (www.RAVEdiet.com) in our co-op and it laid out some staggering facts. It paralleled the change in the American diet from a plant based diet to a meat eating diet a mere one hundred years ago to the increased heart disease and cancer rates we have today that were practically non-existent in those days (except the wealthy elite). It exposed the political connections with what we have been taught to be the food pyramid with the companies that are benefiting from such schemes – such as the subsidies that the meat and dairy industries receive to get us to eat these kinds of food (without them steak would cost $90 lb.)!
Here in Hartford where our organic café & co-op are located, we face one of the highest poverty rates as well as high incidence of diabetes, obesity and asthma, particularly in children. It is disturbing that “today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on the Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet that are overweight.” (taken from Stuffed & Starved – a great new read by Raj Patel).
For the first time since we have owned our café, I have encountered a refreshing interest in healthier eating habits from folks within our own neighborhood. A few weeks ago, at various intervals during a twenty-four hour period, three different women came into our café looking for live food! The exciting thing for me was that they all had a basic understanding of what is going on with our food system and were seeking ways to affect change.
They were all concerned about their own health and those around them- especially the children. They all realized that there has been a break down in our production of wholesome, nutritious foods and they are understanding the depths of suffering from the cheap, chemically laden, gmo foods that have flooded our marketplace. The hard core facts from “Super Size Me” and Fast Food Nation are trickling down into the overall consciousness. It is the time to demand change.
We also facilitated several field trips through our Summer Activism Program. We took twenty local urban kids on a field trip to the trash museum and an organic farm to pick blueberries. I was overjoyed watching the kids chomp on celery sticks, red peppers and carrot sticks that were passed around the bus. They were delighted to pick blueberries right off the bush. And although we met some of the kids on the day of the trip for the first time - not one complained about the all organic lunch that was free of excessive packaging and plastic wrap.
On another trip to the Smart Living Center and CT Audubon Center the kids lined up for pieces of fresh sliced watermelon. I gracefully removed two juice boxes that were being handed out by our hosts without objections and kindly informed them that part of our program was to eat only organic as a way of promoting a smaller carbon footprint. Overall, it proved for me what I believe to be true – that kids will naturally gravitate to what is good for them.
Last month a group of 25 high school students came in to experience an organic lunch and a brief talk. I spoke to them about the marketing tactics targeting specifically at them and the power they have to demand different products by making different choices. They were clearly impacted by the information and were anxious to learn more. Many asked how to get involved with our upcoming Green Teen Activism & Open Mikes.
One student, after despairing over the fact that he has eaten Captain Crunch for breakfast his whole life, asked what to do? They asked what I eat for breakfast and upon hearing it was a green juice consisting of sprouts, celery and cucumber they actually wanted to try it! That’s impressive. It indicates, again, that Americans (our youth) do want choices. We just need to remember that it is up to us to CHOOSE.