Monday, March 08, 2010

Food Is Living

The other night we watched Food Inc. Definitely biased, but certainly no more biased than the big corporations that control so much of our food supply.

One of many thoughts in the wake of the movie:
A nice, scientific level of control is behind the government oversight of our food supply and of our butchers. Food factories must maintain a certain level of chemical cleanliness. Nutrition (removed through processing) is replaced with chemical versions of vitamins. Science says to eat more of this, less of that. We don't want food to spoil, so we do things to make lettuce shelf-stable for several weeks. We take our corn and soybeans into the laboratory and turn them into all sorts of food items. It's all very scientific.

But food is about life. Food was alive. Meat was alive, walking or swimming or flying. Milk came from a living animal, to be fed to the growing baby. Fruits and veggies came from living plants. Grains came from grasses.

Science doesn't control LIFE. Science doesn't rule life. Science doesn't make life.

Sometimes LIFE even has the audacity to do what science says ain't gonna happen. People who are supposed to die end up living. People who are supposed to live end up dying. Medicines that help some people to heal are the same medicines that harm others who have the same disease.

Food is from life, and food is for life. Food often requires sacrifice: the animal must die, or the seed must be planted into the ground to die and then bring forth new life. Additionally, food engenders fellowship, and food brings pleasure. Food is not cold, hard science. There are things about gardening, ranching, butchering, and cooking that are arts, ruled more by common sense and love and skill than they are controlled by science.

And where will we be when we've lost the common sense and the skill and have to depend only on the scientists for our food?


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  2. Michael Crichton writes about this kind of thing in... well... most of his books. About how we can't control nature, and that by tinkering with it we cause unintended things to happen - like modified foods getting out into the wild and affecting/infecting unmodified food. Like the stuff you mentioned in your post. Like new diseases or destroying a food source for an animal that dies off which was a food source for another animal and so on.

    And he talks about how where naively short sighted. We think that because we test something for a year, or three years, or even twenty years, we think we know that it's okay.

    But we never think 100 years or 200 years or more down the line. We don't even have the humility to at least admit that maybe what we're doing now could have consequences which we can't foresee.

    He also talks about how companies have patented all of these genetic modifications... so it is in their best interest to push this stuff as much as possible. In fact, he goes so far as to say that it's not science - it's just "scientists" working for a company, doing things without thinking about what they're actually doing, just because they can.

    Or, as he says in Jurassic Park: "You were so concerned with whether you could that you never stopped to think about whether you should."

  3. Nathan, those long-term consequences are where I run into problems with all sorts of people. It's not just nutrition. It's the lasik surgery for my eyesight; they tell me it's been well-tested, and I'll believe that when they've been testing it for 100+ years. It's the finishes they use on bathroom fixtures, and whether we'll need to replace a tub in 20 years instead of in 75. It's silverstone skillets instead of iron. It's tv for little kids instead of playing outside. It's contemporary worship. It's ear-buds on iPods and how it will affect hearing several decades hence. It's dandelion-poison on the lawn. It's choosing a brand-new translation of the Bible to use in our hymnal. We make all these decisions based on a short trial, without recognizing the long-term ramifications.