The battle for good food is being fought in your grocery stores and supermarkets. And the soldiers are moms. I pick moms because they make the decisions of what to buy when feeding the family. I know this is a dangerously sexist remark, so let me get my caveats in now. I am looking at the majority, and so there will always be exceptions. Yes, moms don’t always do the shopping and/or the cooking in a family. But let’s look at who is keeping the Sara Lee’s and the General Mill’s and the other large food corporations of the world in business. It’s whoever is trying to save money and time when feeding the family. What we often forget is this stress on resources is not recent. With the ever-increasing move toward more industry in past several hundred years – and away from rural living – the sticky issues of how does wholesome food get onto the dinner table have been there all along. Food has to travel to market and stay fresh for consumption. And then it has to be ideally prepared in economical ways to free up precious time and energy to put elsewhere. These big food companies get rich by providing solutions of convenience: canned foods, microwaveable dinners, pre-made mixes, and lots of other things generally loaded with sodium and preservatives. Even more, they spend big money on marketing to keep the profit machine rolling. They get kids addicted early to their favorite brands, and they bamboozle moms with ready-made products labeled “fresh” and “healthy”.
And now we find ourselves in the midst of a so-called good food revolution. We clamor for organic, local, non-GMO, and you-name-it. Small farms are on the rise as are farmers markets. Whole Foods is killing it! But we have hardly reached a tipping point yet. Too much money can still be made on the antithesis of good food. All “bad” food exists because people still buy it. The sad thing is we value cheap and easy over health and, really, self-preservation. The warning signs are there: we keep getting fatter and health problems keep escalating – diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and the list continues to grow. Healthcare companies don’t mind our slow death, because they make their money. Food corporations don’t mind either so long as we don’t wake up to the fact we are harming ourselves with their products. Once again, good marketing dollars are spent to lull us to sleep. We “trust” our brands and assume they have our best interests in mind.
And so what’s to be done? Money is always a good place to start. We need to stop funding these companies that keep putting out crap with little to no regard for people and the planet. We simply have to choose to spend our money elsewhere. These companies will not go quietly. Some will resist and attack. Others will hopefully join the bandwagon and realize they can still make money if they can provide truly healthy and sustainable alternatives. And we will have a real revolution when those with the most buying power – the moms – make better choices. What’s stopping them from demanding easy meals with no GMOs, or with no mystery preservatives and ingredients? What’s stopping them from demanding everything to be organic AND affordable on their shelves? The food companies would have to bend and comply eventually or risk going out of business. What’s stopping them is a lack of education and awareness, and that’s where the current good food revolution falls short. It can be insular in its focus, and not looking at how to bring the rest of the McDonalds-eating world with them. It’s an “us vs. them” mentality with a hint of righteous indignation. How do we get parents really freaked out, for example, about chemically laced meat or vegetables to the point of outrage resulting in boldly different choices with their buying power? And if not for themselves, they will hopefully do it for their kids’ future.