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Blog: Matt Reese

I’m thankful for food

By Matt Reese

Harvest is mostly wrapped up around Ohio, the election is done and the season of Thankfulness and reflection upon the busy growing season is at hand.

I am thankful for my family, my career, the mercy of God and the freedoms we have in this country. I am thankful that, although we have had our share of weather challenges in the last couple of years, we have been spared the total devastation that so many of our country-mates have suffered to the East.

I am also thankful for food. I love food, especially during this special time of year. Each year, the Thanksgiving meal

We had a giant 40 pound turkey for Thanksgiving two years ago. It dwarfed our kids and it was delicious.

inevitably lives up to weeks of anticipation as I dream of turkey, cranberry sauce, mountains of stuffing and delicious desserts. Then there are the leftovers — oh the delicious leftovers!

But along with the unprecedented options and bounty of food that we have to enjoy today, there is also unprecedented suspicion and skepticism about that food. People are questioning the safety, ethics and reliability of every step of our food supply from the dinner table all the way back to the farmer who produced it and the supplier of the seed. These concerns are bolstered by the challenges that are becoming so prevalent in our society — obesity, cancer, and other health issues that are alarmingly common. At the same time we have people in our state, our nation and around the world that are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.

It seems that all too often, our food supply and agriculture are entirely blamed for these challenges when there are clearly other factors at play as well. One key factor that often seems absent from many of the arguments lambasting our food supply seems to be the long-held notion of the importance of personal accountability. Does Monsanto make you fat, or does choosing to drink too much soda with high fructose corn syrup made from corn grown from genetically modified (GM) seed technology developed by Monsanto make you fat? It may be easy to blame Monsanto, but is probably not the fault of a corporation that someone chooses to drink a case of Pepsi a day and then puts on a few extra pounds. Where do clever marketing and product appeal leave off and personal accountability take over?

I wanted to share another excerpt from semi-reformed anti-GM food extremist Ellen Malloy’s blog. In this excerpt, Ellen shares her recent revelation about the importance of personal accountability in the big picture of our food system and in relation to the debate over Proposition 37 in California that pushed for mandatory GM labeling in the election.

I don’t have air conditioning in my house and I work at home so, this past summer I nearly melted like the Wicked Witch of the West. It was awful and somehow, even though I don’t drink soda as a rule, at some point during the summer, in the blisteringly muggy death-like atmosphere that was my house, I decided that it was Fresca that would be my salvation. And it was. Delightfully so. God knows how that came to pass but it did and, as the summer wore on, I drank what I believe might be a small ocean’s worth of Fresca. At least a large lake’s worth.

It seemed innocent enough — I was just trying to stay cool. But really, in buying that Fresca, what I was doing was perpetuating a food system I demand is horrendous. What a clueless idiot.

You see, every time I buy salad dressing because I am lazy or buy an apple fritter at Starbucks because I need some comfort, I am telling Monsanto, loud and clear, to sell more GMO seeds. We all do the same thing. The commodity milk in a latte, the soy everyone thinks is so good for them, the takeout Chinese and the fun “Boo!” cookies at the local bakery, the Doritos and Pirate’s Booty, the Powerbars and the Potbelly or Subway — it’s likely all GMOs.

You don’t need a label. You already know that 95% of the corn grown in America is GMO. And you know that corn is in just about everything. So, screaming for a label is just noise because you are still buying the products you know, if you take two seconds to think about it, contain GMOs.

A label isn’t going to change anything. And fighting for a label when you’ve got a Starbucks in your hand is blaming someone/something else for a problem you help create.

You see, the problem is all crap you are buying that you actually don’t believe in but which tells the companies they’re selling the right thing.

You really don’t need a label. You need to start thinking.

And to be honest, I don’t think any of us are thinking. We’ve signed the petition and decried what we demand is “hidden from us,” without admitting that, frankly, unless we are buying organic, we actually know we are buying GMOs. We curse Monsanto for lobbying to kill the labeling law, even though it is within their rights and is best for their stockholders that they do so.

That’s right, lobbying to stop labeling is them doing their jobs. If you don’t like it, you need to work to change the lobbying laws, not get mad at a company taking legal advantage of them. That’s like getting mad at the gun makers when some whackjob goes postal.

And think about it: no amount of screaming is going to stop the folks at Monsanto from doing what they are supposed to do when they go to work each day — producing a product that you ultimately support, even if you say you don’t.

And this is the thing, we’re the ones who are doing the wrong thing: when we leave the Occupy Monsanto meeting, pumped up and ready for a fight, and we stop by Whole Foods to get a snack and we actively ignore the fact that it is likely laced with GMOs if it isn’t labeled organic. We fall for the “All Natural” label, which has no government oversight whatsoever and actually means nothing. We disconnect ourselves from the reality of the Frappuccino (you can make a delicious Frappucino-y thing with coffee, cold milk and honey — you don’t have to be deprived your frappufreakingcino!) and ignore the power of our own dollars to make a change.

It’s bloody well stupid.

And the first person with whom I lay blame is myself. I realize that what I really need to Occupy is my own kitchen — because I am a source of the problem.

If you have not already, I would strongly encourage you to visit onehundremeals.com to read the blogs and the comments that follow. It will no doubt provide some interesting conversation starters about the food on, and the different philosophies represented around, the Thanksgiving table.

 

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Author: Matt Reese

I grew up on a small farm in northwest Ohio and spent most of my youth writing, doodling, taking pictures, reading and exploring the surrounding farmland. With a family full of teachers, I also grew up around a culture supportive of education. I was active in athletics in high school before graduating from Ohio State University where I studied agricultural communications. This led to my career in agricultural journalism.

I continue to work on the family Christmas tree farm in Hancock County. I married my wonderful wife, Kristin, in 2002. We live on a small farm in Fairfield County with sheep, rabbits and chickens. We have a daughter Campbell Miriam who was born in the fall of 2007 and a son Parker Matthew born in August of 2009. We are active in our local church and with numerous other organizations. I help with the agricultural program at Ohio Christian University in Circleville as well.

I have worked for Ohio’s Country Journal since 1999. I also write a column for numerous newspapers around Ohio, Fresh Country Air and do freelance writing and photography work. I have written and self-published six books to date. To find my books, visit lulu.com and search for “Matt Reese.”

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