Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Eat This

This Magazine Staff

I’m slowly making my way through Feeding the Future, the newish collection of essays edited by Andrew Heintzman and Evan Solomon. I say ‘slowly’ because the barfing takes up a lot of time when you’re trying to chew through this analysis of what we eat and how it gets to our plate. The bottom line, mostly our food gets driven to our plates like some pampered rock star – in a limo, after idling outside a Manhattan nightclub for four hours.

The saddest factoid for me is that my beloved breakfast cereal requires four calories of fossil fuel use in order to produce just one calorie of vanilla- and almond-flavoured goodness. Sooooo, it’s not just the carnivores who are ruining the planet. It’s a sad day for obnoxious, holier than thou vegetarians everywhere.

Stuart Laidlaw’s opening essay, Saving Agriculture From Itself, charts an interesting trend – one retired blogster Andrew Potter might have something to say about. With the growth of demand for organic products, a new American food giant is on the rise, Organic Valley Farms. Putting the lie to capitalism’s mantra of “cutting out the middle man,” Organic Valley encourages the development of middle, er, persons – small, family run farms that actually win in direct competition with the huge factory farm model because wealthy North Americans are actually willing to pay a premium to feel good about how their food is produced.

I like the trend, but fear the future. The way Laidlaw describes it, Organic Valley looks to be about one short decade away from that nasty phase that seems to hit all corporations, no matter the founding principle. When the original energy is gone, in come the consultants and market ‘experts’ who start whispering in the ears of the CEO – “cut out the middle man.”

Chapter Two? – how we kill cows, in excruciatingly vivid detail. Excuse me, I’ll be back in a minute.

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