food wars & labels

HSUS and animal rights advocates vs McDonalds and other restaurants. Organic vs non-organic (at least not certified). “Profood” vs practices they don’t approve of (including acknowledgment not all can afford certified organic). Large farm vs small farm. With the number of food wars happening it’s becoming a wonder there’s food on the store shelves. Food is a political battleground. From heated discussion that could pasteurize raw milk (one debate) to “proper” care everyone wants a say and in a world of choices should have a say! Whether you grow it yourself, buy direct or just shop at the store food is personal.

I was reading the McDonald’s article about rejecting cage free eggs and continuing to buy battery eggs and it struck me that do they advertise that? I mean when looking for eggs is being in cages a qualification? How about this radical idea – QUALITY and PRICE dictates purchases?! Most people, I’m guessing, eat at McDonalds not for the five star cuisine. It’s for the price – something quick, inexpensive and they’re hungry…probably will not give much thought where the egg on he egg mcmuffin was laid. Just reality folks!

However, many do give a little more thought when it comes time to prepare foods at home. How long will it last in the fridge? Does it look and taste good? Is it safe to eat? Many go beyond this. They do care how the chickens were raised and where the pig that become sausage lived. They might still buy that sausage egg biscuit (or fix it at home!) but when they sit down to Sunday dinner they know their money supports farmers being able to do the same. Their food isn’t necessarily certified organic but they know and trust the farmer. These people are willing to pay a little more to insure that their food was raised according to their ideals. Some may call that food elitists and perhaps it can be. I call it CHOICE.

The problem comes when that choice is pushed to eliminate other choices for people who can’t afford the higher cost. The economy will rebound faster when money is spent in the communities. The direct purchase of food or growing it yourself is one of the major perks of rural living. You don’t need a cow if a trusted farmer will sell you beef and milk. You don’t need pigs if someone will raise it for you. This allows you to make the most of what you do have while financially supporting others.

This can come to trust. Do you trust DownTheRoad Farms or the volume of processors for Smithfield? Both deliver an edible, nutritious product – probably at a comparable price. The difference is how it got to your plate. Currently demand for testing and food safety has pressed for additional regulation that will hit small butchers hard enough to end their businesses. Without being able to afford unnecessary(but required) testing they will have to close. If you enjoy purchasing direct this affects your choice as they won’t be there to process your meats. Major packers can better afford this – do you want that your only choice?

Food is personal. Quality, quantity and affordability matter. Get informed and make decisions then support those decisions financially! It is the fastest way to induce change. If there is enough people buying cage free vs conventional and the money shifts production will too! Demand dictates what is produced. Demand created what we have now – abundant food at a relatively low cost held in a large market share by a few companies. Want a change? Finance it! Grow it! Make a difference starting today!

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