Our food needs more thought

WATERLOO (CUP) — In 2004, the American documen tary film Super Size Me grabbed and spun much of society against fast food giant, McDonald’s. This lead many to avoid and denounce the franchise, despite criticism of the methods used by the documentary’s producer and star, Morgan Spurlock, while making the film.
It’s now three years later and the film’s narrow message has been forgotten. Nowhere is this more apparent than on a university campus, where fast food wrappers are strewn across tables, floors and overflowing out of garbage cans.
While we shouldn’t fear fast food, we should be paying more attention to what we eat. The purchase of organic foods is on the rise in Canada, with 34 per cent of Canadians purchasing organic foods, according to a Neilsen study quoted by a Nutrition Action Health Letter. The primary reason for choosing organic? They’re pesticide-free.
Or so it seems. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced its organic food regulations in December 2006, which are being phased in until December 2008. At that point, all organic food for inter-provincial and international trade in Canada will have to be certified, bearing a Canadian Organic logo.
Despite this initiative, organic foods continue to become less of a solution as factory farms increasingly take control of the organic market. The cover story of an October 2006 issue of Business Week magazine, titled “The Organic Myth,” tells how big businesses have strayed from the organic movement’s roots to bring organic to the mainstream.
Back in 1986, Carlo Petrini founded the Slow Food movement in Italy which became an international association in 1989. The movement is based on an idea known as ecogastronomy, which looks to return the way people eat to an appreciation of tradition and local produce. The Slow Food Canada website defines the movement as supporting a new model of agriculture that is less intensive, healthier and founded on the knowledge and know-how of local communities. It encourages people to shop locally and rediscover the pleasures of food.
Growing all our food in local communities is an impractical proposition here in Canada. But producing our own food whenever possible instead of importing foreign rations, an occurrence particularly common in processed foods, simply makes more sense. In Canada, we have more control over food-safety and fewer fossil fuels are needed to transport foods which is good for the environment. A shift away from factory farming would benefit the our food’s quality and help the failing family farm.
Slow Food allows us to reject the corporate image that food is merely fuel for humans. Standardization is unimportant compared to quality, and variety should be embraced. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs promotes many ideals of slow food with its Foodland Ontario program. The Foodland Ontario program brands and promotes Ontario products that are in season and highlights the benefits of purchasing them.
With Slow Food’s growing presence and government programs providing us with knowledge of local foods at our fingertips, we owe it to ourselves to escape the convenience-food mentality. Slow Food is a welcome shift in a new direction.


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