Beyond Voting with Your Fork - From enlightened eating to movement building
By Josh Viertel, Slow Food USA
When I talk to a crowd of people who are new to the food movement, I often begin by asking them, “How many of you have committed an agricultural act in the last 24 hours? Please raise your hand.” In crowds of over 200 people, I usually see about six hands go up. I call on them: “What did you do?” “I watered my tomatoes.” “I mowed my lawn.” Occasionally, I’m surprised to hear that someone collected eggs from a backyard chicken coop, but most of the time, there are a few home gardeners in the audience, and that’s it.
I then ask the question, “Well, how many of you have eaten in the last 24 hours? Please raise your hand.” All hands go up. The message I’m trying to get across is simple: If you eat, you are involved in agriculture. “Eating,” as Wendell Berry writes so eloquently in his essay “The Pleasures of Eating,” “is an agricultural act.” There is a story behind our food. And we believe it ought to be a story that makes us proud. Sadly, most of the food we eat has a story behind it that we would be ashamed to tell… Our food consistently makes us sick, causing foodborne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli, and diet-related diseases like diabetes and hypertension. But even just hearing the story behind it can make us sick too—sick with images of manure lagoons, sick with the sight of tortured animals, sick with the smell of thousands of miles of polluted waterways, and sick with accounts of labor abuses so severe, and working and living conditions so dire, that they are sometimes hard to believe.
Read more in the attached pdf file.