It is no exaggeration to state that absolutely everything is wrong with the food that we eat nowadays, the way it is grown, the way it is processed and packaged, and the way it has become scarce and inaccessible to eight hundred million of the worlds population and counting. Food Banks are now a common feature in our cities and towns, they represent the front line, the emergency services that fed over a million families in the UK between 2014-15. Along with the food banks there are lots of other smaller community based food projects that feed people with hot meals on a regular basis.
Without going too far into the complexities of economics and its interconnected intricacies it is fair to say that industrial food production and the relentless drive for profit fuelled by so called economic growth in a world of finite resources is one of the major factors in addressing the multiple issues relating to our food. In terms of our own social food crisis on a micro level people are not eating because of ideologically imposed austerity measures, pay cuts and freezes to wages, and of course it is no surprise that this is the same people who are running our industrial food complexes. The Neoliberal capitalist on steroids is killing both people and planet in the name of profit, and it wont stop unless we make it stop.
Farmers are pushed into poverty by supermarkets, food production workers are low paid and work long hours. Our colossal agricultural systems are responsible for the continual degradation of land and soil through the relentless and repetitive mono cultural approach to food production where soils are kept artificially alive with petroleum based fertilisers. Aside from these structured systemic problems we also have the predatory and aggressive companies that produce genetically modified seeds pushing for control of global seed supplies.
Animals are reared in cramped overcrowded conditions, are force fed food that isn’t part of their natural diet, and at the end of their lives they queue to be slaughtered and processed in the same casual manner that cherries are put on top of cakes on a production line. On top of this modern day industrial animal husbandry is responsible for greater levels of climate change emissions that that of fossil fuels
Thinking about food on a cultural level many local dishes stand the test of time and are passed on from generation to generation, but this is dying off slowly but surely. We eat too much cheap take away food, too much processed food and anything that is convenient.
Foods that were once seen as a treat are now consumed as meals on a daily basis, this can be said in the huge rise in meat eating over the last four decades. For many nowadays cooking with fresh produce is alien in our fast food processed service culture, either because people cant cook, cant afford the gas to cook with or both.
Like most other things that people used to do with their hands, cooking and food became a cultural commodity to be processed and packaged. We were cajoled away from cooking with fresh ingredients. all of a sudden, after thousands of years of making, preparing and eating our food we didn’t, as the advertisers told us, have time to cook a proper meal any longer.
Microwave TV dinners, things that you pour hot water over to inflate into a meal, soups made with dry over salted powder and a dozen E numbers, our bread covered with spread only one molecule away from plastic, soft drinks that make great drain cleaners, anything but real fresh home cooked food!
A simple but powerful local solution.
The most direct way that we can address these multiple issues is by growing some of our own food at home, many people have gardens, have allotment plots, are part of community and local gardening groups. The benefits of growing our own food at home are many, the cost is virtually nothing, we can make great meals and dishes, the health benefits of eating our own cleanly grown produce straight out of our garden comes free of charge, and with a little application of care in our gardening methods no harm is done to the land on which we grow our food, whilst at the same time encouraging greater fertility.
The next Level, are you coming?
If we take this a step further and start to generate a broader interest about growing within our communities by helping people to grow their own, by sharing skills and produce we can really start to take control of the food that we eat and ensure that nobody ever goes without eating, regardless of economic factors personal or external. We can create local food supplies, we can generate quality horticultural employment, and we can take our food back from the stainless steel provider, but If we fail to grow our own food we are at the mercy of the market and a ruthless uncaring political ideology that is only concerned with ever greater profits at any expense. It is time!