Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Johnson Food Revolution

Next week I will be finishing the last of the meat from our grass-fed cow and free-range pig.  This has been a 15 month journey for us.  It represents a milestone of sorts, as this cow and pig were our first venture into the land of free-range bulk meat.  In honor of our first, beloved, grass-fed, free-range friends, and because I have received several requests for more information about where and why we buy our grass-fed meat, it is high time I shared the whole tale.  In our family's culinary transformation we claim neither originality nor fanaticism.  But, because the last 15 months have been filled with big changes in our shopping and eating I feel justified in entitling it The Johnson Family (mini) Food Revolution.

Our story begins with two skeptics, T & B.  Not just skeptics but self-confident skeptics, which is truly the worst kind.  We were both raised in great families with mothers who are exceptional cooks, and, being of average healthy weight and (oh, bother) in medical training, we thought rather poorly of the organic, Whole Foods, anti-fast food crowd.  Sure, in our daily professional lives we were awash in the medical complications of the very real Obesity Epidemic.  But surely the problem is really just one of failing to observe moderation, right?  After all, aren't those "wholesome" grocery stores just for food nuts and trendsetters who are more concerned with the fashion statement of their grocery bags than putting meals on the table?  Aren't organics just snobbery -- more expensive and elitist versions of the fruit we commoners could afford?   Who cares if my apple came from Bloomington or Brazil?  And what self-respecting, freedom-loving American would forbid other citizens the occasional, convenient, and cost-efficient pleasure of a Big Mac?

And then, in October 2009, we, the skeptics, viewed the documentary Food Inc.  The tag line promised, "You'll never look at dinner the same way again," and we scoffed.   But, as the documentary brought us through America's industrialized food system and it's far-reaching effects on our health, environment, economy and workers rights, our scoffing slowly softened and gave way to disbelief.  We were able to see connections between the American food production industry and our daily experience with obesity, infectious disease, other diseases and preventative health.  We bristled at the catch-22 experienced by many rural farming communities which looked remarkably like towns we lived near growing up.  But, in the end, we felt hopeful and empowered in our ability to change both our family's eating habits and the system, because after all, as the documentary pitched, when it comes to food we all vote three times every day.  We were ready to cast different votes.

Next: Part Two: The Strategy


SnoWhite said...

I'm excited to hear your journey!! And, I'd love to talk with you about food sources in the area :) We're still looking for good farmers.

Juris Mater said...

You are SUCH a clever and good writer, and I'm fascinated by the beginning and so eager to read about the rest of your revolution. We've done the same thing, but almost unconsciously (although the Michael Pollan books did direct us along the way)--mostly because, gradually as we make one change at a time, I realize how much better we all act and feel when we are eating correctly, according to a well-ordered ecology. And I can't believe that it's only very slightly (if at all) more expensive to eat wholesome foods! That's been the real shocker.