Due to the twisted nature of our current food system the worst food is also the most readily available. Today the western world is largely fed on highly-processed mass-distributed food that destroys both our health and our sense of respect for the inherent vitality of nature.
Our diet also replaces our innate sense of awe and gratitude for nature with a self-serving form of food-fetischism, offering us faux-food convenience-products in place of actual food, and competitive-consumption tactics in place of a thoughtful appreciation of life. In short, our modern diet is part of a broader consumerist ideology that objectifies life and causes us to abuse animals, workers, and the land itself.
In her new book We the Eaters, Ellen Gustafson, the co-founder of Food Tank does a great job of clarifying how dietary shifts backed up by grassroots political pressure can lead to positive change in our food system. Advocating not only for dietary change but also structural change, Gustafson points out the raw injustice of mega-corporations reaping billions of dollars on cheap and highly processed food while refusing tp provide their workers a living wage. She also reminds us of the most important food-insight of all, that nurturing a more holistic food system is a way of nurturing a more profound and respectful relationship with nature, other animals, and ourselves.
Gustafson also points out one common ingredient in every aspect of the western diet: suffering. “Almost every step of the industrial meat supply chain” she writes, “degrades someone or something: the cows, the land, the farmers and industry workers, the consumers, and the communities.”
Like Raj Patel in Stuffed and Starved, Marion Nestle in Food Politics, and Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, Gustafson offers us an authentic piece of food journalism that thoughtfully critiques the political, economic, and social impact of our current industrial food system. Like all those who speak wisely about food, she inspires us to examine not just our inherent food values but also our broader notion of value itself. Her book helps us to recognize that we can never fully examine either food or nature through just a scientific lens. She urges us to take a broader and more thoughtful approach to our diet and be willing to unearth our commercially-driven fantasies about food in order to cultivate a more meaningful, compassionate, and sustainable relationship with both ourselves and our environment.