There was a time when I could purchase groceries and it could be a mindless effort, now that has changed. Now many thoughts run through my head for example, will I consume this before it expires, is this company that treats their employees with dignity , and am I buying local.
I will begin with how I buy my produce. I always knew it was from their farm way over there to my table here. I never thought about where my produce was from or and what policies are in place so I can have strawberries year round. This changed last year when I learned about my carbon footprint. The stores I normally patronize are Hollywood Farmers market, Whole Foods and Costco, Costco, which is now the leader in organic groceries. I always tried to purchase organic products because of the quality and provisos the manufactures must maintain. When a farm is USDA certified organic, which means they are required to do more than not use sprays or chemicals. The rules are far reaching, a farmer must maintain and better soil, protect neighboring waterways, and animal habitats. After learning my carbon footprint I was able to better research the food I consume, I also learn the story of the production behind it. Everything from where is transported from to whom is picking it. I am now able to make better decisions.
Recently for our Urban Infrastructure class we read about neoliberalism, NAFTA and growing produce in Mexico. Looking at Mexico’s farming history juxtapose with neoliberal policies that were adopted, tells the story of the demand for food and the crippling effect on farming communities. One aspect of these policies is equal access to water. Neoliberal polices have played a role in dismantling tradition farming methods by expanding globalization and free trade. These policies also facilitated market-driven economy. Meaning, as demand grew in newly open markets credit to NAFTA, wages began to fall, and no real change to the local economies, revenue not trickling down. Creating a race to the bottom culture. Not only is this taxing on the residents but also the land. The on the ground reality is that the new farming techniques and competition puts more strain on the laborer, soil, and growing demand for water. As stated in La Via Campesina… “Tracing the roots of the recurring agricultural crisis back to over four decades of neoliberal policies that had fostered a market-based, technologically-driven, environmentally devastating global food system.” Makes me question…do I really need strawberries year round?” Farming demands and water conflicts are nothing new and goes on in happen in California and Mexico is no different. There is always a way to find fresh water for hydraulic fracturing and growing produce, but drinking water for residents is not always a top priority.
I am writing this post as Ramadan is coming to an end. For Muslims around the world Ramadan is a holy month of fasting, prayer, charity, and reflection. One practice during Ramadan is giving food to those that do not have as much. Fasting is common practice in many religions around the world. Fasting is done to express ones commitment to which they serve. What if we put religion aside and fasted for the benefit of the planet? Or conserve to help those without as much. It has been said if we stop eating meat; we can save so many gallons of water. Or…do you know how many gallons of water it takes for 1 hamburger patty? I am not saying we all go vegan or vegetarian. I am advocating conservation. In America we produce plenty and still have food insecurity, something is not connecting.
During World War I, US Food Administrator Herbert Hoover championed a campaign that tasked US citizens to cut back on meat, fat, sugar and wheat and to participate in Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays. This campaign was done with conservation in mind, stating food is needed overseas. Citizens, restaurants and hotels made conservation efforts. Long to short in America, we can conserve it is in our history. From the readings it is clear that in the united States alone we produce plenty, but do we really need to produce and export that much, of course not. We are the consumers we have buying power to change. What I do to cut down on my meat consumption is have a vegan days twice a week.
Hoover Food Campaign (This is a campaign I would not mind bring back) http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/hec2009000359/
Prison Food (With all that we produce export and waste, we can do better than this) http://www.buzzfeed.com/claudiarestrepo/adults-try-prison-food#.cq6oAgB2g
Americans Try Peruvian Food For The First Time (Just because I like to compare popular American food to others) http://www.buzzfeed.com/racheldotson/americans-try-peruvian-food#.xjB8jWnJW
California Drought and Meat consumption.
Currently boycotting Driscoll berries.