Friday, December 7, 2007

Bad tastes

"On the demand side of worldwide food production, globalisation, economic growth, and urbanisation in places such as China and India have impacted people's dietary preferences and food choices, the report noted. While demand is on the increase for processed food and high-value agricultural crops such as vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy, demand for grains and other staple crops is declining.

This shift in "tastes" represents a microcosm of the food costs issue, said IPFRI research analyst Timothy Sulser, who also contributed to the report. As wealthier populations shift to a diet full of meat, fruits, and vegetables, poorer populations will struggle to afford ever pricier food staples. " (thanks Anna).

I don't think this issue ("tastes") is sufficiently addressed. I am convinced that the reason is that this will reduce demand, hence sales, financial flows and profit. That's what I like least about Green Revolution II. We're trying again to increase supplies via technical fixes, while we know that every solution carries with it its own problems. We absolutely must change our way of life when it comes to food. I know what people say, that asceticism is not the answer, that purchasing is a basic human right (!), that people have a right to chose and to spend their private money if they so wish. They point at the experience of the former Eastern block countries, and challenge me loudly by asking if my idea of a sustainable future is to buy sujuk (armenian spicy sausages) on the black market. What I can say is that it is not acceptable that personal choices destroy the environment and natural resources and to hinder a fairer distribution of food resources for the dubious pleasure of eating fast foods. And that I'm not talking about asceticism, I'm just asking if people really have to eat meat everyday?

1 comment:

Leila Abu-Saba said...

And do we have to eat meat raised on farms hacked out of the rainforest, lungs of the world, and must we eat that meat wrapped in more packaging by volume than the food itself (as in McDonald's etc.) and must we eat food transported thousands of miles to our tables?

And why should every American supermarket be full of aisle after aisle of chips, snacks, cookies, sweetened juices, sodas, processed cheeses, desserts, baked goods, fruit leathers, sugared processed breakfast "cereals", etc. etc.? Sometimes I cruise the "food" aisles at my local "pharmacy" to see if there's anything there to eat - instant soups, crackers and junk snacks, canned meats, etc. - enough fake food to fill two small Lebanese grocery stores, and none of it wholesome or unprocessed.

(A young Beiruti boy I know visiting America wandered the aisles of a local pharmacy in Berkeley and asked his mother - but why do they sell Coca-Cola at a drug store?)

My children think I am unfair because I only buy plain yogurt. I don't buy yogurt sweetened with corn syrup and fruit jams, I don't buy sweetened yogurt siphoned into thin plastic tubes for individual consumption like astronaut rations, I don't buy frozen yogurt (ice cream) and I don't buy sweet yogurt with tiny packets of colored candy sprinkles for extra flavor.

I buy plain yogurt (no I don't make my own, but maybe I will one day, I know how) and if they want a dessert I'll put a half spoon of sugar and some vanilla in it.

Etc. As an American I can't help but be wasteful - it's almost impossible in this culture, even though we live very low on the consumer scale for our demographic group - but I do try to avoid this processed food junk at home.

Guess what: my children are not overweight and they actually eat green vegetables and fresh fruit by choice. They ask for salad if they didn't get some on their plate. My friends think this is wonderful. But the kids won't get anything else to eat so they eat what they get. If they had all that snacky crap to fill up on all afternoon before dinner, they wouldn't eat their fruits and veg.