Food politics and concerns over food safety are certainly the topics du jour, and today’s Oscar nomination for Food, inc can only keep the momentum going. Oprah’s recent nod to the film on her show with Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and actress and vegan spokesperson, Alicia Silverstone, can’t hurt either.
My interest in these topics, however, goes back decades to friends choosing vegetarian and vegan lifestyles in college (ahem, 25 years ago), to following news of the Jack in the Box e-coli outbreak of 1993, the evil ways of Monsanto, the rise of the slow food movement in Italy, and exposés on the perils of fast food.
I am also interested in questions from a sociological perspective (at least my graduate degree can be good fro something) such as the real cost of cheap food, as explored by Raj Patel, or the exploitative nature of labor in the fast food industry, as documented by Ester Reiter in Making Fast Food.
But what made me finally commit to changes in my food choices (and to become more vocal about these issues) were recent events here in Canada: The listeriosis outbreak stemming from Maple Leaf meats in the summer of 2008 which killed 22 people. Sadly, a report released just days ago confirms that our current ‘government’ (if you can call it that) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have failed to improve the state of food inspection in this country. To add insult to injury that summer, other cases of listeriosis were found linked to cheese from here in Quebec.
So I must be a vegan, right? Well, no. Not yet anyway…. still working towards it. I know, I know, people will argue ‘its easy, just do it.’ Well, yes; and no. I live surrounded by omnivores. My 5-year old son is an omnivore and chooses to remain so – and, yes, we have discussed this (although since seeing Happy Feet he argues we should leave the fish to the penguins). Besides, he will eat meat at his father’s house even if I no longer serve it to him (we are separated and share custody). My new partner is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, yet he has been very supportive of my changing choices and so far has highly approved of the plant-based meals I’ve served (thank you sweety).
Ok, that was a bit of a ramble. I think I’d better leave this with at least one food shot:
Black bean burger (recipe from MyVeganCookbook)