To begin, an excerpt from Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer–this is a conversation between the author and his grandmother regarding the extreme lack of food during WWII:

“I became sicker and sicker from not eating, and I’m not just talking about being skin and bones…It became difficult to move…

“The worst it got was near the end.  A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn’t know if I could make it another day.  A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.

“He saved your life.”

“I didn’t eat it.”

“You didn’t eat it?”

“It was pork.  I wouldn’t eat pork.”


“What do you mean why?”

“What, because it wasn’t kosher?”

“Of course.”

“But not even to save your life?”

If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.


In our culture of convenience, we tend to ignore the moral complexities that exist within our relationships to food.  To make matters more complicated, these “moral complexities” exist in every level of food consumption, from fast food to bags of spinach in the grocery store.  The fast food example is more obvious; at this point we have all seen pictures of factory farms, and if we are oblivious to what goes on in that world, it is because we choose to be  so.

The regular bag of spinach at the grocery?  Spinach is one of the “Dirty Dozen”: vegetables that have the highest residue of pesticides, and therefore are the most important to buy organically.  Enter what I believe to be a two-step moral dilemma:

1. When you purchase vegetables that are not organic, you expose your body to pesticides and put your own health at risk.

2. When you purchase vegetables that are not organic, you support growers who are not treating our shared planet with care.  Heavy usage of pesticides has compromised the health of the soil, which directly contributes to loss of nutrients in the food grown in it.  Even more troublesome is the toxicity added to the environment by non-organic farming practices.  (For further study, see this Top 10 list of reasons to support organic.)

Let me put my whole-hearted support behind this statement of the incredibly wise Wendell Berry:  “Eaters must understand that eating takes place inescapably in the world, that it is inescapably an agricultural act, and that how we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used.  This is a simple way of describing a relationship that is inexpressibly complex.  To eat responsibly is to understand and enact, so far as one can, this complex relationship.”  (Bringing It to the Table)


If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.

What matters for our lives and our health is the life history of the food we consume.   What matters for the earth is the life history of the food we consume.  What matters for generations to come is the life history of the food we consume.  In self-defense, in defense of the ground you walk on, in defense of your children and children’s children, learn where your food is coming from, and at what cost.

There is much to save.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: