Nichole Fanara / The Silhouette

The Western world has put itself into a food bubble – an impenetrable array of thoughtless eating habits that steer away from the natural world and celebrate neat little packages. How did we become this?

Every time I watch a food commercial, it’s for little chocolates in baggies that control calories, or chip companies giving you the chance to create a flavour of your choice like chicken and rice. Do you have any idea what goes into the flavour-making process? I can’t help but wonder if there is any real chicken or rice used in the chemically induced flavour making process.

There has been a persistent news story that is developing into worse versions of itself. The scandal of horsemeat being used in the place of beef has been all over Europe and the United States, found in packaged foods from little companies to well-known corporations like Ikea and Nestle. It is affecting both poor and wealthy nations alike, in supermarkets and school lunches, and as fast as these companies are trying to get to the bottom of the issue, the ignorant community of citizens (us) remain content to continue with our days.

I wonder what the food regulations in Canada are like. Do you know? Processed foods (like those contaminated with horsemeat) have different regulations than fresh foods. When Mad Cow was distributed, it was through fresh foods. The governments in both Europe and North America cracked down on food regulations for fresh food. But this one aspect is not enough to encompass all means of food production.

The level to which we are disconnected from our food is startling. In Dominican Republic, a local family showed us Westerners how they kill their chickens (yes, by hand). They know exactly where their food comes from, where it has been, what it has eaten and the sanitation (or lack thereof) necessary to produce a hearty dinner. But what do we know up in Canada? If you don’t live on a farm, you know squat. And the sad thing is that if something were to happen like Mad Cow that could seriously cause illness, we would not know until the illness spread and it was too late. There is no way for us to tell if our food is safe, real or uncontaminated. We completely put our trust in the hands of corporations. They make the rules. They decide for us.

Perhaps the system of processed and “fresh” (which is still processed to some degree) foods is better than the alternative of growing and killing our own source of food. Perhaps the good old Western way helps you to sleep at night knowing you haven’t hurt a fly today. But in reality, if we cannot trust the hand that feeds us and we cannot bite it for fear of the law, then how are we to sleep at night knowing that the hurt fly is actually us? In a world obsessed with rules and control, can we survive all the mistakes made by the boss?

There is a lot of room for play in our society. We play with our food all the time. But how far is too far, and how much more disconnected can we get in our desire to control everything from nature’s gift of food to our own bodies and weight? Is it really so barbaric to grow your own food when the food we create in a factory is so mass produced we lose a sense of connection to the earth, to life and to our health?

 

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