Like most people raised in the suburbs of a metropolitan area, nearly all of our food growing up was a product of the industrialized food system. Neither my family’s nor my wife’s meals were dominated by McDonald’s or Burger King. But that really does not matter since most food in grocery stores is processed by the same companies in the same way.
Documentaries like Fresh and books by Joel Salatin convinced me we needed to begin the shift to organic food (although we still currently enjoy lots of processed sweets and desserts).
I’m using the word “organic” not in the same way the USDA uses it, which can be sketchy. In my use consider locally grown, as little chemical fertilizer as possible, as little insecticide as possible, as little transport as possible, as little processing as possible. Give me eggs from chickens walking around the pasture, beef from grass-fed cows rather than corn and carrion fed cows, pork from oinkers in the field rather than from a cage shot-up with anti-biotics from birth.
The first time we had organic chicken from a local butcher, Sonya had prepared a dish we had frequently eaten. After one bite of the chicken we are all looking at each other asking, “If this is chicken, what in the world have we been eating?”
It is the same with farm direct, organic eggs. First you notice how much harder the shell is than a store-bought, industrialized egg. Then a bright orange yolk is staring up at you instead of a pale-yellow something and you wonder, “If this is a real egg, what are those other things and what has been laying them?” You may not want to know.
So we are shifting toward organic. Here are three reasons to consider it.
(Compare the above “free range sow” to the sow in the video below.)
1. Organic food tastes better and is better for you.
Undertand the process of industrializing the food chain requires many rounds of anti-biotics to prevent diseases in the confined spaces. The medicine, stress, and often toxic-environment all contribute to the shrink-wrapped package cooly displayed at the local grocery store.
There are reasons E-coli originates in the industrial food system.
Then there is the taste. Unless your taste buds are on a permanent vacation the taste difference will be immediate. It will also be for the better.
2. Buying local supports local, small farms.
If the food tasted exactly the same–and it does not–buying local is still a better option, when the option exists. CSAs and farmer’s markets remain great locations to get locally grown produce and meat. It also allows you to meet the local farmer and possibly even visit the farm.
The industrialized food system has no interest at all in your health, unless your loss of it can be directly attributable to their product. As with all things capitalist the bottom line is the bottom line. Profit margins will trump health concerns every time. Agribusiness needs my dollars a lot less than Shady Farms.
3. Choosing organic is a means of honoring God’s covenant with the earth.
After the flood of Noah God promised never to destroy the earth and its inhabitants by water. Often overlooked is that God’s covenant is not only with humanity, but with the animals as well.
Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, “Understand that I am confirming My covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you–birds, livestock and all the wildlife of the earth that are with you–all the animals of the earth that came out of the ark. (Genesis 9:8-10, HCSB)
The verses immediately preceding affirm these animals are provided for food.
Proverbs says “The righteous care for the needs of their animals” (12:10, NIV). This does not only refer to dogs and cats (ie, pets) since pets were not the order of the Old Testament day. The reference is to productive animals like animals used in farming. If a mistreated dog is offensive to you, then mistreated pigs, chickens and cows should be offensive as well. Compassion should exist even if the heart strings are not strummed in the same way.
The following video shows the industrial food system as it works in one Asian country eventually reaching the fast food chains. The sublimity of the soundtrack is a vivid contrast to the processing taking place on screen.
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The Backyard Homestead is on my wish list, hint, hint…