An Independence Day Message: Fight for The Right for Real Food

by Melissa Diane Smith

(Opinion) When our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776 covering our rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, I’m sure they could not foresee that the food that sustains us and is essential for those rights would be changed so drastically between then and now by greedy corporations focused on profit. I doubt they could have ever conceived of the idea that the real food they ate for nourishment would be manipulated in such horrendous, harmful, underhanded ways without the people’s knowledge that it puts our very right to Life, Health and the pursuit of Happiness at risk. Back then who could have ever imagined packaged fake foods made with refined flour, sugar and long lists of chemical ingredients that no one can pronounce, meat from animals pumped up with drugs and unnaturally raised on outrageous amounts of toxic corn, and corn and soy sprayed with harmful chemicals and genetically tampered with to withstand those toxic chemicals when everything else sprayed with the chemicals dies?

(To put things in perspective, large-scale refining of wheat and sugar cane had not even begun in the late 1700s. Most additives and preservatives hadn’t been developed. Animals that were eaten by humans ate grass and whatever other elements, such as insects, that were in the natural environment. Different varieties of lower-carbohydrate corn grew in the wild without the use of any chemicals, and soy wasn’t even eaten in America.)

What has happened with our food since then is hard for even us to imagine and believe. How things could have gone so terribly wrong with the very food that gives us life and health would have been completely baffling and downright horrifying to our founding fathers. If they could understand it, however, they would have an answer for it. In fact, they wrote what to do about forces that hurt our right to a good life in the Declaration of Independence in this sentence:

…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.

So, it is our right – the people’s right – to change things when something corrupt (like Great Britain’s government back then) interferes with our rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It’s true that today our government makes the rules (or often the lack of rules) that allow such harmful foods to be made and eaten by the masses. But our government is really controlled by big multinational food and drug corporations that are motivated by profit, not the good of the people. The corporations exert their influence on politicians to get what they want – an obscene amount of money in their bank accounts. But the good news is we can alter this situation far easier and more quickly than we might think. As the movie Food, Inc., points out, we as consumers have a lot more power to change the food system than we realize.

Earlier this year I attended a speech by someone involved in changing our industrialized food system who had had a meeting with the Secretary of Agriculture. The speaker told me that the secretary said, “If the people build it, we will come,” I asked the speaker what that statement meant and he told me it meant that if a grassroots movement is started and built by the people to create a healthier food system, the government will follow.

It’s time to rise up as a people and create the change we seek. If we’re unhappy with the grain-and sugar-based, chemical-laden, industrially made, commercially available food we have that is making us fat and unhealthy (and coming with terrible costs to the environment and human rights, too), we need to change the system. That starts with small individual steps in choosing the foods we eat every day. If you haven’t already done so, this Independence Day weekend declare your food independence and take any or all of these actions:

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. (This comes from investigative reporter Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food.) Avoid products with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  2. Choose more organic and locally grown fresh produce. Go against the grain, literally: Avoid the fattening grain-and sugar-based foods that are constantly pushed on us and eat more organically grown and locally grown fresh vegetables and fruits.
  3. Buy some of your food at local farmer’s markets instead of big-box commercial supermarkets. The average fresh food product on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there. Buying locally produced food (or growing some vegetables on your own) eliminates fuel-guzzling transportation costs and helps conserve our limited fuel resources. Check out the Food Independence Day page on Facebook and join the cause and, to keep the movement going, invite four friends to join the page.
  4. Stay away from commercially produced corn- and soy-based foods and ingredients made from corn and soy. They are industrially produced (toxically), and most of them are genetically modified.
  5. Buy more grass-fed meats and wild-caught, sustainably raised fish. All this really means is getting back to meat and fish the way they were meant to be. Yes, you may pay more for them, but you’ll pay less than you would in sickness and doctor bills.

If we each do our part to take as many of these actions as possible, we the people will rise up and change our food system, plain and simple.

Is it a pain that we have to fight for the simple right to have real food that keeps us healthy? Absolutely. But all the most important fights are worth rising up and fighting. And having the right to food that keeps us healthy is the most important of all because without health, the type of life we want to live is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

On this, the beginning of the July 4th holiday weekend, let me leave you with the same words I used to conclude a food-independence-related post I wrote last year. It’s an excerpt from an excellent article, “Declare Your Food Independence,” by blogger Sarah Newman on the Take Part website:

… each of us has the opportunity this holiday to make a radical political statement by declaring our food independence. What does this mean? Well, it means a lot to each one of us as unique individuals. But, collectively, it’s about saying no to our industrial food system which is feeding us an unhealthy corn-based diet that is contributing to skyrocketing obesity rates, helping to fuel global warming, scaring us with constant food recalls and offering us foods that barely resemble food….

It’s time that we return to our roots. Literally. We need to support a food system that offers us healthy, safe, sustainable, fresh foods. And what better time to begin than on Independence Day?

Copyright © 2010 Melissa Diane Smith

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