Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One Rotten Apple...

The Dictatorship of Healthy Living

I have been living in a bubble ever since my daughter was born almost two years ago. I do not have time to read the paper or watch the news and a lot of days pass without me even starting up my computer. I admit that I live my life in a state of ignorance-is-bliss, but so far I do not miss much.

Some weeks ago I made the mistake of checking on the state of the world and went online. The headlines that greeted me were horrifying: Tibet was burning, Belgrade was burning and the stock markets were collapsing. It took me about thirty seconds until I had seen enough. My computer shut down and I decided that as long as I did not know about these disasters they simply did not exist.

I am bad about denying and ignoring, and I certainly do know that the world can be a rotten place. Of course I blame politicians and big industries for it. Governments are unpredictable and unreliable. They see threats in every neighboring and far away country and in every foreigner crossing the border for whatever reason. They pass laws that restrict citizens' rights and freedoms under the pretense that it is best for their safety.

If political reforms are tackled they usually sound good when they are first presented but by the time the bill is passed the original idea is barely recognizable because of lively horse-trading behind closed doors, also referred to as compromising. Not that compromising is a bad thing. No relationship will stand without mutual compromise. The difference, however, is that in a relationship the parties involved are not under the influence of big industries or political strategies.

Governments also support any questionable form of science as long as it puts their country up one place in global rankings and as long as it promises to make products better and cheaper. This is why we can never be sure how much toxic and genetically modified food we have in our fridge. In the US, nowadays, about 80% of all grain is GM, a German farmer recently told me. It is hard to check and confirm this figure but even if it is only 50% it is too much. Especially as we do not know yet about the effects GM food might have on us and on our children, nor do we know the effects it will have on the environment. One hint is that the honeybees are already dying. Of course, pro-GM-food lobbyists claim they die from anything but GM plants. Apiarists, however, are convinced the cause lies in the new crops and demand immediate removal of GM plants.

I consider our little family a miniature state built on grassroots democracy. We discuss big decisions and act according to the final vote but in some departments everyone gets to make his or her own choice because not everyone can be a specialist in every field. As I am taking care of our daughter full time I get to decide on most issues concerning her.

I have never been a greenie except for a short excursion into vegetarianism and self-knit sweaters when I was sixteen. This phase wore off soon enough because my self-made clothes looked hideous and I also could not resist my grandma's roast beef. Where the food came from never really mattered to me as long as it was tasty and on my plate when I was hungry.
However, ever since our little daughter started to join us for meals, I have taken very good care that I put as much organic food on the table as possible. You might say that organic products are unnecessarily overpriced and that I am a victim of some clever marketing strategy of the organic food industry. You might further argue that organic food producers are just as profit oriented as everybody else and that their means of cultivation are not any better for the environment than the traditional ones. You may be right and I do not claim that organic food is the panacea for a better future. But I am convinced that even the slightest decrease in pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and whatever else farmers use to make their products more resistant, less fatty and faster growing is an asset for our and my daughter’s future. Buying organic food is a compromise I am more than willing to make. And the best thing is, it is a decision I make on my own, like any other dictator of the home who cares about the well-being of her people. Moreover, as I do it for my daughter it also makes me feel good and it improves the spirit in our little, happy world without wars and terror.


Antonia Malchik said...

I love this, Julia! Sometimes it seems like we have so little freedom left in our choices -- that a interest in profits has meant that companies try to keep the consumer as ignorant as possible -- and the only control we have left is over the food we eat and feed our children.

goooooood girl said...
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