At least once a week I load up at a local farmers market. I like chatting with vendors about the food I’m buying, and when I go to the big chain grocery store, I would like to know a little bit more about my food than I do now. Or maybe I wouldn’t.
At least once a week I load up at a local farmers market. Two or three loaves of bread and a couple of pounds of patty pan squash always end up in my bag, plus whatever is in season that catches my eye.
Besides potatoes and berries and beans, recent purchases include a chocolate mint plant that should supply every bit of mint I need for the rest of my life, and probably about an extra truckload to give away. I also picked up an early Christmas present for my hard-to-buy-for father, courtesy of one of the many arts and crafts vendors selling among the produce tents.
But as much as I like to shop at farmers markets, I still buy the bulk of my groceries from plain old grocery stores.
I like chatting with vendors about the food I’m buying, and when I go to the big chain grocery store, I would like to know a little bit more about my food than I do now.
Or maybe I wouldn’t.
I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the movie “Food, Inc.” to local theaters, but I suspect I’ll have to wait for the DVD.
Reviewers say the movie is an eye-opener about what really happens to our food on its way to our plates. Probably we’d all feel better if we didn’t know, but it’s also true that we can influence what is offered by what we choose to purchase.
I don’t add to the market for veal. I do pay extra to purchase certain organic products. I like to think that my purchases and my non-purchases, when added to a sea of other consumers’ choices, affect what shows up in the marketplace, even though it sometimes seems that there’s a tidal wave of sugary cereal and highly processed meats and general junk foods dominating the market.
Meanwhile, I just read an Associated Press story that reveals it’s apparently an almost universal practice for egg hatcheries to toss unneeded live male chicks into a grinder. Males don’t produce eggs, obviously, so they aren’t of much use to egg producers.
We all know that few roosters and many hens are needed for the egg industry, but I’m guessing almost none of us had any idea what was happening to the males. Do I really want to contribute to this system by purchasing eggs? I was already paying extra for cage-free eggs, but unless I can determine that that company doesn’t grind up live chicks, I’ll be looking for an alternative and voting with my dollars.
In a capitalist system, how you vote with your dollars holds more power than how you vote in elections. You can bet that if everybody quit eating eggs this week out of disgust with the way baby chicks are killed, the leaders in the egg industry would quickly make a big announcement that they’d changed their ways.
There is a reason some dairies advertise their milk comes from cows that are not fed bovine growth hormone, and it isn’t necessarily because the dairy owners believe the hormone is harmful (though some certainly do). In many cases, the companies stopped using the hormone because so many consumers balked at purchasing any milk from these cows
You can make up your own mind on how you feel about the growth hormone. Just do a little Googling and you’ll find all the argument from both sides. I prefer to avoid it and I’m awfully happy that these days, it doesn’t cost extra to do so.
Many years ago, I used to get very frustrated at how difficult it was to buy 100 percent whole wheat bread. The bulk of breads were white, and even the brown breads usually contained mostly cheap refined white flour, often darkened with caramel coloring and just a smattering of whole grain. It took a lot of label reading to find what I was looking for.
Several years ago the selection of 100 percent whole grain breads exploded suddenly after low-carb diets became popular. You don’t have to be a believer in low-carb diets to benefit from the “votes” of all those low-carbers who wouldn’t buy white bread.
It often costs more to purchase higher quality food, but not always. Oatmeal, carrots and beans are some of the cheapest and healthiest things around.
The farmers market season is almost over, and I’m going to miss it. I’ll know less about the origin of the foods I buy. But like I said, maybe there are some things I’m better off not knowing.
Pekin Daily Times Editor Michelle Teheux may be reached at 346-1111, ext. 661, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Pekin Daily Times.