Knowing how your food got to your plate should not be a mystery and it sure as hell should not be a luxury. I need to know where my food is from, exactly what’s in it and how it came into existence. Essentially, it should be made of ingredients I can pronounce, words I recognize ... not numbers.
Numbers are not real ingredients.
I need this basic information. I deserve it. We all do.
A young friend from New York City, upon quizzing him about what he’d like to eat, finally said to me, “I’ve never had so much control over my dinner.” It was a new experience for him to think about his food in that way and have a hand in the process. It was empowering but daunting.
He was referring to the process of simply deciding on meats, produce and flavors but it directly translates into many of our food experiences. Taking an active role in your food selection is an important responsibility at any age; the kid hit the nail on the head. It wasn’t always like this, though.
Organic is quite the buzz word these days. Great debate exists over its importance and validity. My stance here is simple: I believe food should be as Mother Nature intended and not tinkered-with in a lab.
I believe in farmers, not labels.
The fact that the government has allowed a company to slap an organic label on something does not necessarily convince me of anything. Sadly, it still requires me to ask a few more questions ... just to be sure I understand how my food came to be.
Organic these days seems to indicate a luxurious food indulgence.
People joke about this. It’s not funny.
“Organic” food used to just be known as “food.” Everyone basically had the same food. Some people had more land to grow larger quantities and some may have had fancier ways to prepare it ... but everyone in suburbs and cities ate organic food because that is all there was. You either grew it yourself, knew the farmer personally or the farmer personally delivered those foods to your local market.
We shouldn’t need to investigate how our food got to the table.
Food facts should not be held hostage, available only to those who can afford to pay the ransom at the likes of Whole Foods and the few other grocers that offer signage informing you which farm had grown your produce and meats.
No one is perfect but let’s continue to ask questions, read labels and remember that real food is grown by real people on farms — not in labs — and should absolutely be accessible to everyone regardless of geographic location or social standing.
I am encouraging you to really think about this and start to take small steps towards change.
Photo Credit: Melanie Carden
Welcome to Chef
Mel's Genuine Journey: Dig In.
Originally published as a column in The Winchester Star newspaper (2016-18), Chef Mel's Genuine Journey connects real-life experiences with the deeper meanings and lessons gleaned from the garden, kitchen, and dining room table.