Evolving Peace

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Super Market Maze

Tonight I got lost in the refrigerator section of the local supermarket, Shaws. I was just trying to buy orange juice and I could not figure out which one to buy. There was orange juice with pulp, with little pulp and no pulp. Some fortified with calcium and some that was made from concentrate. Is anything in this store made from nothing but oranges I began to question? Finally I just settled for something labeled Florida’s Natural and proceeded to look for my next item. Oh, according to the label the juice consists of concentrate from Florida, Mexico or Brazil. So even what appears to be natural may not. Large scale supermarkets are flourishing with products that have no connection to the community while local farmers are struggling to survive. (Please note I do know that there are no oranges in VT and due to Sarah not feeling well, juice was called for today.)

What a shock it was to my system to see all these fancy colored coated packages waiting to be grabbed by the next unsuspecting consumer. They where decorated as if all had signs on the outside that said “eat me”. I normally shop at the local food coop and I am satisfied to have just the basics and natural foods. I do not need seventeen different brands of toilet paper to wipe my ass, however maybe yours needs the extra smooth touch of Charmin.

My next item on the list was ginger ale. Sarah was sick today and she felt like having some comfort foods to cheer her up. As I have already stated before I primarily eat and consume only organic foods so strolling along the beverage aisle was more than just a choir, it was an adventure. At the coop I can always find natural products but here among the supermarket I am relegated to consume what they deem as marketable. Schweppes or Seagram’s are the two most popular brands of ginger ale, but a glance at their labels will show more than just ginger.

I settled for a lesser known brand, named Polar with the words “All Natural Ginger” highlighted in red on a yellow banner. Wow something natural I found, I thought to myself. Unfortunately, after closer inspection of the ingredients it was revealed that it consisted of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, citric acid, natural flavoring and caramel color. Products that are of supposed natural ingredients have hidden qualities. That is why I am so hesitant at shopping at the super markets.

While the major supermarkets showcase products for consumption, the sole purpose is to increase the profit margins, however the consumers' health and well being are being compromised. Most of the aisles of supermarkets are flooded with goods unsuitable for human consumption. The produce sections are filled with bacteria from large scale factory farms that produce lettuce and spinach sometimes tainted with the e-coli bacteria or other harmful containments. Purdue and Tyson poultry products are filled with antibiotics and growth hormones that are potentially harmful for human digestion. Like wise the same with beef and pork products and as well as the grave environmental dangers produced by the industrialization of the food supply. Current food supply from farm to table is off kilter and needs serious resurrection.

The rise of supermarkets throughout the American landscape has driven away the connection the consumer had with its food source in the past. Supermarkets are filled with products made and distributed from foreign lands such as Totowa, New Jersey; Greeley, Colorado or Nelson, New Zealand. There is no face in the food supply and lost in the necessity of production has been the manipulation to benefit the profits of the corporation.

So while I just returned from the supermarket with two products, I was amazed of the fluff and trash sold to the public. Used to the healthy and natural options at the coop I was flabbergasted to see once again what is marketed to the public. As many in rural areas of the country can attest, there is a crisis in small scale and family farming. Noticing the status of food in the supermarkets, there needs to be wholesale changes in every aspect of our food supply. In order for thriving rural communities that still have working farms throughout, society will need to transform their buying power to promote that change. In the meantime to help facilitate change governments need to actively get involved in promoting and supporting of local food sources, it is the only way things will change for the better.

Robb Kidd

“As the Republican platforms says, the welfare of the farmer is vital to that of the whole country.” William Howard Taft (27th US President (1909-13)


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