Politically Incorrect Food

by rhiannon on June 6, 2009

milk-melonBreakfast this morning was a slice of Galia melon and a bowl of muesli with milk. It wasn’t as nice as it should have been. The melon was ripe and juicy but at the same time strangely grainy and without much flavour. Not at all the crisp and refreshing sweetness that I associate with melon. I believe I know why. This melon grown, who knows where, bred for shelf life rather than flavour or nourishment, then ripening in some chilled container ship until it ends up in Tesco where, seduced by the special offer of £2 for two, I buy it. This is not just bad luck. Most of the melons I have bought in the last year have been disappointing—this is how melons are now.

If the melon was less than wonderful, the milk was horrible. What is it with milk these days?  Milk used to go off after a couple of days, even in the fridge. It smelled bad and if you happened to drink it, it was sour. Now, it doesn’t go off for days and days. It doesn’t smell. It goes all clumpy and the taste is indescribable—sort of bitter and strange and not sour as it should be. What do they do to it? If it doesn’t go bad naturally, it has to have  been chemically altered in some profound way. But to what? This is more than scary and the scariest thing is that no one really seems to mind. The muesli, by the way, was OK.

This got me think about how dramatically our food supply has deteriorated in quality over the few years. It has happened  gradually over decades and we have barely noticed but  my taste buds remember better times. Most processed food despite the vast variety on offer, presented in many different, inviting packages, are basically comprised of four ingredients—wheat, soya, corn and sugar —the rest is icing on the cake. There may be a few pieces of sad, factory-farmed chicken floating around in there somewhere plus a bunch of chemicals to make it look like something but basically, it’s those four ingredients which are grown in vast tracts all over the world at great cost to the environment and the local economies in those areas.

If, like me, you avoid processed food and think you ‘re alright because you only eat fresh produce, think again. My melon and milk tell a different story. The quality of fruit, vegetables, meat and diary  has deteriorated so much in the last decade mainly because profits are the major (and only) concern of  the huge agribusness companies who control our food supply. Nutrition and environment are way down the list.

These companies tend to keep a low profile (for a lot of  good reasons) and despite their size and power, have names may not be familiar to us, like Cargill for instance . One name that will be familiar is Montsano,the GM kings. They are putting a great deal of effort into getting GM accepted as widely as possible. My opinion is that they should be resisted to the death.

Why oppose GM?

Many people believe that health or environmental hazards are the primary reason to oppose GM foods and while these are legitimate causes for concern, they are by no means  the most important. The most important is political.

Here’s the thing. No one can legally patent or own a naturally occurring organism. Anyone who wants to grow tomatoes can grow tomatoes on their own terms.  A genetically modified organism, on the other hand, can be patented and  sold and distributed on whatever terms the patent holder desires. One can see the attraction of GM to profit-motivated companies  and if the new species push out the naturally occurring ones, so much the better for them.   It seems to me a no-brainer that to allow  Monstsano  who have the ethics and social responsibility of slugs, to have this level of control over our food supply is a really bad idea. If you’re not worried see Eat Your Heart Out by Felicity Lawrence, (Penguin) and you will be.

That’s my morning breakfast meditation. I trust that tomorrow’s free range egg and  sourdough bread will be less depressing.

{ 2 comments }

Andy Dubrovsky June 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

I’m glad to see that you are at least eating breakfast every day, even if it doesn’t taste as good as you remember that it should. I believe strongly that one’s life is enriched by having a solid breakfast every day. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe in missing any meals. Good luck with your new blogging venture. I will stop in every now and again.

rhiannon June 12, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Thanks for stopping by. I believe in breakfast so strongly that I am saddened to see it go down hill.

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