Food for thought

Button mushrooms straight out the soil

I’ve never been one of those bare-footed foodie types who hug trees, breed bunnies and cycle into work; but after watching Robert Kenner’s Food, Inc. documentary, I took a step back and seriously started to wonder where the hell our food is coming from.

I took a step back and seriously started to wonder where the hell our food is coming from

Feeling somewhat unsettled and taking on a French-stuffiness for food, I continued to shop at our neighbourhood supermarket chain, refusing to believe that the oh-so-good produce and fine-cuisine culture of the Mediterranean would ever be tainted by the ideals of American mass consumption, fast food chaos and corporate puppeteering. And then there it was — in the fruit aisle as bright as day — a sign that our little ol’ French supermarket was victim to artificial ripening somewhere along the production line: bananas from Ivory Coast, ginger from Peru, pineapples from Reunion, mangos from Brazil and hardly any produce grown locally or in French soil.

Food from far, far away
Food from far, far away

And I’ll admit: artificial ripening is probably not the biggest food ogre you’re going to find under your bed. There’s worse out there: industrial production of meat and veggies, petroleum-based fertilizers or pesticides and food that’s no longer really food. But even if we can’t be too sure what’s going on back stage and who’s in control of the food chain, I don’t want to blindly support the obvious culprits like ‘fresh’ bread that lasts for four weeks, apples that all ripen at the same time or chicken breasts that are three times the size they were a few years ago. Our natural instincts should know better. And sure, worse things are happening in this world and it’s kind of yum to eat avos all-year-round but if I have the the choice regarding my food, I’m going to make it.

The way fruit's meant to look: leaves, scuff marks, different shapes and sizes
The way fruit’s meant to look: leaves, scuff marks, different shapes and sizes

— So we made a decision to support local producers and buy seasonal where it made sense: lemons with their leaves still attached, mushrooms with all that soil gunk still left on their stems, tomatoes that are different sizes and eggs from the egg lady who’s riddled with arthritis. The Italian fruit and veg guy even told me how to look after my rosemary plants because my last two were over-watered and died.

Just a little food for thought.