Friday, November 28, 2008

RICK VON FELDT: Your Relationship With Food

Jennifer – the article was a brand new topic for me. Thanks for sharing. Growing up, in a farm community, elements of this article as it related way back when were talked about in my family farmer community. The original goal of a farmer was to grow and harvest. As government programs came along, farmers would gather in little granaries at the local co-op and share stories about which government programs would get them the most money. It changed the priority.

I like the intent of the article. I want to believe the author in thinking that this is a national crisis. But with so many other things going on in the world, I don’t think it will get much attention. Fundamentally, it comes down to what I call the “seat belt” dilemma. The question becomes, “What is the role in government in protecting it’s people?”

The author is probably correct. We are dumb about our decisions on what – how and why we eat. And we are killing ourselves. But is the responsibility of government to intercede on behalf of the ignorant people and set a policy (“you must wear seatbelts”) or is it the role of the people to make changes if they don’t want to die early?

Most Americans, (and I can only speak on behalf of my own population), believe that they could do many things to get healthier. We need to exercise. Consume less. And be conscious. But we don’t do it. It is our choice. Is it therefore the role of the government to “Is it the right / responsibility to “provide a healthful diet for all our people …focusing on the quantity and diversity of the calories...eaters consume?”

America makes changes when we have a crisis. We are not smart enough to thwart crisis. We consume. And enjoy our lives until something make it so miserable that we have to make a change. American’s love their cheap $1 meals at McDonalds (not me!). They won’t change – and government won’t change for them, until we hit crisis mode.

QUESTION ONE: How would you describe your diet? How do you feel about it? Do you think you need to change it in any way, and if so, how and why? If you feel you need to change it, but haven't yet, what is standing in your way of making the change?

Because I like variety – my diet is probably better than the average American. I like vegetables. And we have very interesting things here in California. Before moving to Asia, I ate pretty healthy. Enter Asia, where I tried to fit in to local cultures and found myself eating most any type of animal part placed in front of me. I once again developed an affinity for starch (love my noodles) and for oils. I still try to use olive oils. And I true to eat green and orange as much as I can. But my downfalls come from the abundance of artesian breads, meat and cheese in abundance, and great California wine to wash it all down. For my health’s sake, I hope that it is true that red wine counter balances some of the bad things in our diet. If not, well – it was fun in the trying!

I will be like most Americans. I will wait until a crisis happens (heart attack or bad warning from a doctor) to make a change. My bi-annual physicals have been good – and so I will continue to eat my duck liver pate and creamy cheese for a few days longer.

I walk by the “organic section” of my local grocery store as well as the higher priced items at Whole Foods. I don’t choose organic unless it tastes better – instead of “better for you.”

But I did vote for the California proposition on the ballot on Nov 4 to insure that chickens have room to run around. So did the majority of Californians. Now, we will eat chicken from Idaho, but feel better about our conscience.

QUESTION TWO: How do you (and/or your family) eat? (At home/ out/ take-out/ around a table/ standing at the counter/ together/ at different times/ on the go/ et cetera?) How do you feel about this? Again, do you feel the need for change?

As a single guy, the most of my meals are eating in front of the tube. I do focus on cooking quality items. But sitting at a table emphasizes single loneliness. I also find that when I am with people – we are all talking so much that we don’t focus consciously on the tastes of food. Too bad.

QUESTION THREE: Where do you shop for your food? How do your food-shopping habits reflect your values?

When I picked out my new place to live in Redwood City, I took out a map and located the gyms and the Whole Food markets located on the Bay Peninsula. It is important that I have quality markets to shop at. I love Whole Foods and it is always an experience as well as a shopping trip for me. I try to spend more time in the vegetable section. And I avoid the frozen foods section – except for the occasional comfort food like “pot pie.”

QUESTION FOUR: What does your country/ state/ region do to influence how and what people eat? Does this need to change, in your opinion?

Growing up in Kansas – we would see signs on the highway that say, “Kansas – the breadbasket of America.” The reason my family came to America was to be wheat farmers. But now – it is all about profit. I don’t hear my relatives talk about bringing quality to America.

Now living in California – the largest agriculture area of the USA (I found this funny when I moved here. Who thinks of California as the countries largest agricultural state?), I am conscious again on the abundance and choice we have here. There is great opportunity for organic, macrobiotics and everything I between. It is about choice. We just don’t always choose well.

QUESTION FIVE: What one thing can you do to: a) wean yourself off an oil-based diet and onto sun-based foods?b) improve your eating habits and thus your health?c) encourage others to do the same?

I GREW UP thinking about QUANTITY and PRICE over QUALITY. Even though I can afford to eat what I want to eat – I look at the sale prices when I go to the vegetable market. Old habits die hard. Part of the reason is that I know if the price of a vegetable is on sale, then it is in season – and I try to eat from the season.

Coming back from Asia, I have been amazed at the LOW MEAT PRICES. In Asia, it is more expensive to eat meat than vegetables. The opposite is true here. And so I get confused by my own Kansas roots to want to buy big family packages of meat.

What can I do? This article brings it to the conscious forefront. I need to look twice at the organic sections of the market. I need to choose a second green item. And tonight – I will eat vegetarian. After all, yesterday, I consumed enough bird to last me for three days. Check that – until tomorrow when I start in on the leftovers – and the other half of the turkey I have yet to cook.

1 comment:

Jennifer Rabold said...


I think the interesting perspective from that article is not that we should debate WHETHER government should have a role in influencing Americans' diets, since it clearly HAS had a role for a long time... just whether it's the RIGHT role today.

You and I are very fortunate that we're in the positions to be able to make lots of choices. And yet even we weigh our choices... organic and expensive or mass-produced and cheap. What's important is that we make informed choices. Like, for example, strawberries. If I can buy organic, I do, since I know that strawberries absorb a lot of pesticides.

Anyway, don't buy your chicken pot pie in the frozen foods section. Ask me for my really good recipe or come visit and I'll bake one for you! :-)