From a book that has helped me think more clearly about the moral implications of what I buy at the grocery store:
You want the best ‘organic test’? Go to any farm unannounced and see what is on the bookshelf of the farmer. Because what I’m feeding my thoughts and my emotions dictates how I raise a chicken.”
This gem is from Joel Salatin, founder of Polyface Farm, a family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm and informational outreach in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. You can read about Salatin’s farm in many places; I came across him in Michael Pollan’s arresting book An Omnivore’s Dilemmna: A Natural History of Four Meals. I read a lot of books; few will probably have as immediate and sustained impact as this and Pollan’s most recent, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, have had on my wife and me.
Of course it’s true, but I still find myself surprised at how dramatically one’s worldview shapes the decisions one makes. What’s truly stunning is the way we can be blinded by familiarity. Not only are many of the back-allies of my brain nearly identical with what is floating around the atmosphere, but even many of the thoroughfares. I buy food every week, sometimes every day in a week, but I have never before thought about how price is usually the only piece of relevant information regarding my purchase, aside from the other variable, packaging. As Pollan points out, produce advertisements don’t usually need to waste space with words, a number will suffice. Such a rubric would sicken me when applied to education, or travel, or housing, but when it comes to what I eat, how it was grown, and what informed the grower, I am very content to score the deals. Until recenlty I even eyed the more scrupulious eater with suspiscion. There is a foodie-snobishness that ought be avoided, but for me that’s a long way off. For now, I speak for the trees, and the Cornish/Rock crosses.