Consciousness to Action: Local Foods

Throughout the semester, we have discussed various ways to change the ways that we treat our bodies so that the things we do are better for our bodies, the environment, and the larger social implications. Most of what we discussed has focused on the products that come into contact with our bodies, such as cosmetics and tampons. We had not, however discussed a major everyday product that impacts our bodies, the environment, and society until today – food. We’ve had a few intermittent discussions about food in terms of veganism and vegetarianism, but today in class we had a more in depth discussion about the decisions we all make as individuals about the food we consume and how we talk to friends and family about our food choices.

Food and food choices tie into ecofeminism multiple ways. The choices we make about the food we eat relate to our body image and sometimes the choices we make are influenced by the body image that society has constructed for us.  Some societies also construct women as the home keepers, meaning women are responsible (in some households) for determining the food their families eat and sometimes also determining where that food comes from.  Our food also has larger environmental and societal implications as well, as the common statistic cites that that average piece of produce in the U.S. travels 1,500 miles from field to table including cleaning, packaging, and processing. The fact that much of our food, such as that sold in grocery stores, comes from so far away detaches many of us from any relationship to our food. The reality of this system, however, includes the factory farms and pesticides used to grow our food, the fossil fuels used to transport our food, and the plastic used to package food. This also includes the workers who are exposed to the pesticides used and the workers who are exploited for inexpensive labor to keep food costs low, as discussed in the article “Farmworkers and Pesticides” by Marion Moses.

So what are we going to do about it? First, as we discussed in class today, we need to educate ourselves and others and essentially arm ourselves for the intellectual battle of convincing others why this is something to be concerned about. Last year I took my parents to see Food Inc.  ( and they have (slowly but surely) reconsidered factory raised meat. I further read books, such as Vandana Shiva’s Stolen Harvest which explain the larger implications of bioengineered food, minimal crop diversity, and the loss of local foods systems on the global scale. This particularly explains what is wrong with our food system and why it needs to change.

As we also discussed in class, the second key to getting friends and family members involved in these issues was to present the issues to them in a way that sparks their interest. I got my parents involved in local foods the summer that I worked at the farm by taking them to the farm and other nearby farms and to our farmer’s market. Since then, my parents have really taken off with it – my dad started a compost infrastructure for composting our food and garden waste to use for the gardens. My dad has also started growing a lot more of the food that he cooks with (even growing it organically), and my mom has started keeping her herb gardens organically as well. My parents go to the farmer’s market in my home town religiously every weekend and look forward to when I bring home produce and goods from the farmer’s market in Carlisle.

I realize that not everyone’s friends and family will be as quick to take to their interests and concerns as mine have been.  However, I think that taking these approaches can be helpful  when talking to friends and family about the various issues we’ve discussed this semester and trying to get them just as enlightened, concerned, and involved as we’ve become. It is the responsibility of those of us who have the ability to make a choice to make informed choices about not only the products we apply to ourselves, but the food we eat and the food that we encourage others to eat.

  1. #1 by ryahiel on December 9, 2010 - 9:26 pm

    Lead by example!
    This semester I have become much more interested in good, wholesome food, and food sustainability. This inspiration has built off the shoulders of close friends who are inspired as well. To bring this information back to my family is exciting for me, because I care about their well being and how they effect the environment. Yet, even if i just convince them to buy less mass produce, hormone infused animal flesh and eggs, I am happy. As Claire depicted in class, do not sweat the small stuff! Not everyone has to or can afford to have all their groceries organic. But the fact that my family is, as you put it, slowly but surely changing, is amazing progress (and you can keep building off that progress!).
    Here is an idea that has stuck with me since the Environmental Justice week here at Dickinson: A dozen eggs at a farmers market is about $3-4. If every family near a farmers market bought just their eggs from a local farmer, MILLIONS of dollars would stay in the local food economy… just from buying your weekly eggs! How amazing is that?!

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