Rising food prices, pesticides on produce, antibiotics in meat, less time for food prep… why is it becoming so hard for us simply to eat?
I spend a lot of time thinking about food. Daydreaming, planning, researching. But also, sadly, worrying. I feel like every time I read the news or pick up a magazine I’m faced with a new reason for food-related anxiety.
First: the rising cost of food and less and less time in which to spend cooking healthy food. And those are the easy issues. I feel overwhelmed by the sheer challenges of deciding what to feed myself and my family in the modern world.
What is local? What’s in season? Which produce is on the Dirty Dozen guide of produce most contaminated by pesticides? Was our meat raised humanely? Does it contain antibiotics? Growth hormones? Nitrites? There is mercury in tuna, arsenic in rice. All corn, it seems, is genetically modified now. So much salmon is raised in farms.
What about food additives? Dyes, preservatives, sugar, transfats (luckily no longer a worry where I live), chemicals to maintain texture, chemicals to simulate flavour. Chemicals in plastic packaging and tin can liners.
Worry over listeria, salmonella and other food-borne bacteria – even in seemingly harmless foods like frozen berries or sesame seeds.
The world is a different place than it used to be, and sometimes that’s hard.
I’m not telling you these things to stress you out. Maybe you don’t care about these issues, and if you don’t, that’s just fine. But I can’t be the only person with a dizzying stream of concerns racing around my mind. At the end of the day, I’m left wondering… What in the world are we to do?
I honestly wish I knew. I wish I had some answer – some magical solution. I’ve certainly spent enough time trying to figure one out. If anyone out there has ideas, please, PLEASE let me know.
It’s frustrating that there is no concrete solution to this problem. I’m sure I’ll keep searching.
But in the meantime I’ve come up with a few food-related goals for the upcoming year. I hope to:
Take control of our food production, when possible. This means gardening (even container gardening), making our own bread products and baked goods when we can, finding local sources of meat that is raised in a way we like, or hunted in the wild. Finding food providers we can actually talk to and discuss these issues with is the next best thing to making it ourselves.
Avoid the bad stuff, for the most part. There are ways to cook rice that supposedly reduce arsenic exposure. The occasional bit of tuna apparently won’t hurt anyone. If I make Christmas cookies with my kids and we make icing made with food colouring and use sprinkles made with god-knows-what, I want to believe that it’s not such a big deal, since they don’t eat those things every day. If I break down and buy a bag of Doritos at the grocery store and my husband and I eat the entire bag while lounging on the couch at night, that won’t kill me. Right? In general though, I hope we’ll reach for whole and homemade foods the majority of the time.
Try to go easy on myself. Do my best, but don’t expect perfection. The world is a challenging place in which to feed a family these days. There will be good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. But if these are the kinds of things you worry about, I think the most important thing is that you’re trying. I figure that as long as you’re trying, in any way, you’re better off than if you give up and don’t try at all. So instead of beating myself up for every little decision that’s not perfect, I want to remember that I’m human, my kids and husband are human, and we’ll all do the best we can.
But seriously, if you have some magical solution, I’m all ears.