The Food Inc. blues

Last night I finally sat my butt down and watched the movie that so many have told me about. PBS aired Food Inc. as part of their POV series and let me tell you, it was difficult to sit through for so many reasons. Food has been on my mind a lot lately, not just because of pregnancy cravings, but because it has always been the biggest indulgence for our family. We like going out to eat, trying new things and really, we just love good food.

One of our biggest goals this year is to finally get on and stick with a budget that works for us and our hopes for the future. The area I have the most trouble with and will have to cut back on is groceries. Believe it or not, I am in much more danger of overspending in a supermarket than an outlet mall... And if it's someplace like Whole Foods or a Co-op? Forget about it. After seeing where our food comes from and how it is all processed, and knowing how expensive organic produce, free range chicken and grass fed beef is, I am feeling a little discouraged. Not hopeless, but discouraged.

There are so many issues at stake here... How are we treating the animals we eat? How many unnecessary chemicals are we ingesting every single day? How has that impacted Curt's and my health and how does it impact Addie's growth and development? How does the way we grow and process food effect the Earth? What does this teach our children about food, where it comes from, nutrition and responsibility?

Then there are the really ugly questions I want to pretend I don't have... If we make the changes I feel we should, how will this impact our lifestyle? What does our world (or more specifically, our freezer) look like without bags of frozen Tyson chicken breasts from Sam's? How much work is it going to be for me to find foods that I know are responsibly grown? How much more will that really cost? And finally, the worst one... Am I really willing to make the sacrifices necessary in order to do what I know is the right thing?

I know that change doesn't have to be all at once and there are gradual things we can do to start moving in the right direction. Thank goodness our Farmer's Market is getting back in full swing again. We usually buy as much produce from there as possible anyway, so that won't be too much of a strain (at least not during the summer). We are going to expand from just herbs and tomatoes this year and try for more vegetables in our garden. I have always wanted to go in with another family to buy a half or a quarter of a cow from a local farm so maybe now is the time to find a partner. (Any takers?) I'm doing a much better job of meal planning in general so our grocery lists are getting shorter and we're already beginning to save money.

I think it becomes so easy after watching films like Food Inc. to only see the parts of what I'm doing that are wrong, rather than rejoice in the things we're doing right. I know I will always find a ton of room for improvement in what we do regarding food consumption in our home. I suppose for now, the best thing I can do is keep asking the tough questions and try to find some honest answers, while remembering that even the biggest change happens one step at a time. And the first step is always the hardest.

Happy Earth Day, everyone! Oh, and if you haven't seen Food Inc. I highly recommend that you check it out... just make sure you're ready.


Kristen said...

Just last night, Kim and I were just discussing splitting a cow. We're up for it and I'm sure there are others - maybe in the MOMs group - who are interested. Have you thought about purchasing a half share or splitting a whole share with another family from a local CSA?

Kate said...

I have been very interested in watching Food Inc. - especially after some very interesting and educational conversations I've had with Seth about the agricultural industry. He comes from an agricultural background (his grandfathers were both farmers and his uncle currently raises beef cattle) and know so much about how and why things are done in that industry. I think Food Inc. might be a good one for us to watch together as I think his real life ag. knowledge and experience would provide a good counterbalance to the opinions in the documentary. I try to always remember that documentaries can come with their own agendas and try to look for ways to find out information about the whole picture from varying perspectives. I'm looking forward to seeing Food Inc. and learning more. :-)

sara said...

Kristen, great idea! I will send an email to the group and see if anyone else is interested.

Kate, I was thinking of Seth a lot throughout the movie and wondered what he would say about several things. Iowa was mentioned quite a bit, not in a bad way, but in regards to agricultural research at the University and all the corn that comes from the state in general. If you guys watch it, let me know and we can set up a Skype discussion afterwards. :)

Kate said...

I definitely will. Also, you might want to check out It's a site that was set up for the purpose of responding to the points addressed in Food Inc. I think that there are probably some exaggerations on both sides of the issue, but I think there is also truth on both sides. Now I REALLY want to watch Food Inc.!

Ginny said...

I've been wanting to see this movie too.

Dennis said...

If your budget looks like ours, you will spend more for less food of better quality. Wild caught fish. Moody meat beef, pork, and chicken--which is raised on their farm au natural. No shooting up with meds, vitamins, etc. Yeah, I don't get the $1.99 Kroger spare ribs anymore, but they are tasty and you also watch your portion. I'm going to scope out a farmers market in our area. I loved the heirloom tomatoes we got in LEX.

scrappingadvocate said...

I watched it too, and it kept me awake that night. You can bet I was a different shopper at the grocery store yesterday! Both of my kids have autism, so we are already concious about organics and they have allergies, so I have to make a lot of their food from scratch (sounds daunting, but its not a big deal once you get used to it). But when I have to think twice about picking up a package of Tyson fresh chicken, that's crazy. My DH makes a good income, but organic meats are out of the question. So we do what we can with what we can. We also have a small garden and I can (yes, in jars) surplus from ours as well as other organic gardeners who don't want thiers. We planted fruit trees a few years back too, even though we live in town. Yum.

sara said...

I'm so glad to hear this resonates with people. I will say that a trip to the Farmer's Market last weekend helped to lift my spirits for so many reasons... It was packed, the bounty of everyone's harvests was so beautiful and inviting and the prices didn't blow me away. This is doable, I'm sure of it!!!