It’s everywhere

There’s a picture circulating around the internet right now showing the pink paste that is “mechanically separated chicken”, which picture seems to disgust people who see it even as they consume products made from it in huge quantities. What’s more, this picture represents the barest tip of the iceberg compared to what is being done to produce most of the food product most people consume on a daily basis.

Yet, somehow, the fact that most of the food in most of the supermarkets in most of the world represents an industrial preparation more akin to plastic than what we like to think of as food, people still eat the stuff, and the companies that produce those products make millions from what they sell. I’ve even heard people try to compare the industrial food production system to what happens in a real kitchen when someone is preparing food from real ingredients. This is how far we have become detached from our food.

Now, I do not believe that it is possible to eat–or medicate–ourselves to some strange form of immortality, but I do believe that it is possible for us to increase our quality of life, however long it might last. I am certain that the advent of food products and processed food has diminished that quality even as it has served to help increase its quantity. I wonder what the point of such a thing might be.

In this modern era, I am certain that it is possible to have the best of both worlds: to have the benefits of access to a higher calorie diet that probably leads to longer life while also greatly increasing the quality of that life by refusing to consume what the modern world passes for food. Sadly, this kind of increase in quality and quantity requires a choice that far too few people are willing to make or, perhaps, even understand can be made.

The choice I am talking about is twofold.

First, one must choose not to eat most of what one finds in a typical grocery story. Really, if one was sincere about this sort of thing, he would stop shopping in grocery stores at all. Instead, one would seek out food at its source, buying directly from the people who grow it in its most basic forms. This kind of choice also means choosing to make one’s own food rather than having someone else make it for you, but I see that all as part of one choice.

Second, one must choose to spend more of his income on food. Americans, as a measure of percentage of income, spend less on food than at any other time in the history of the United States and maybe even the world. Currently, the average household spends less than 7 percent of its income on food, and that number is still declining. As a result, Americans have to make compromises about the kinds of food they buy, opting for cheaper alternatives because that is all they think they can afford. Further, other lifestyle choices like cable, the internet, and the like force most people to make choices for convenience and cost rather than quality when it comes to food. Making this choice will likely mean making hard choices about other things.

Once made, these choices, I believe, will have immediate, tangible, and ongoing benefits. Frankly, it won’t just be because of the food either. The lifestyle choices one will have to make to choose quality food will improve the quality of life just because they will. There is little doubt in my mind that less television coupled with better food will improve the health of most people.

But for that to happen, you have to do it first.