I work in a 60-person IT department. A few days ago a memo was sent out that one of the managers was providing an appreciation Chili’s luncheon. There would be tortilla chips and salsa, along with beef and chicken fajitas served with fresh veggies. The gal who sent the memo requested that anyone who wasn’t going to participate just let her know so she had an accurate headcount. I politely and cheerfuly declined, without specifying why. Then came the questions.
“Are you gone that day? Is it the food? Is it the wrong type of food? It was really good when we had it last time. You don’t like fajitas?”
I love fajitas. They’re delicious. I savor fajitas using homemade whole wheat flour tortillas, lots of grilled or sauteed organic vegetables, and a condiment-sized amount of pastured beef and chicken grilled with real spices. Add some fresh veggies and homemade salsa and you have bliss on a plate.
What I can’t savor is off-the-truck white flour tortillas (which are also cut up and deep-fried in GMO canola oil for the tortilla chips and served with canned preservative- and MSG-laden salsa).
Ok, so I can’t eat the tortillas or chips or salsa. How about the meat?
Well, I definitely can’t savor beef from sick cattle fattened in overcrowded manure-lagooned feedlots, fed a steady diet of GMO corn, GMO soy, antibiotics, hormones to stimulate unnaturally fast growth, feathers, used chicken litter, bones, blood, and miscellaneous other USDA-approved fillers and waste products.
I also can’t savor chicken grown for six to seven weeks in sheds with tens of thousands of other birds, where they are fed a diet of GMO corn, GMO soy, and antibiotics that are the only reason they are able to survive their unsanitary conditions. Did you know the male chicks, since they can’t lay eggs and don’t grow big enough to be a meat chicken, usually end up either being thrown away in plastic bags to suffocate, or being tossed alive into a grinder to be made into food for factory farmed cattle?
OMG what a pain in the ass I am. Who wants to think about this stuff?? It’s terrible. How about vegetables? Can I eat vegetables, for crying out loud?
You mean genetically altered Frankenveggies from jumbo vegetable farms that hire planes to douse their fields regularly with pesticides and herbicides, sometimes even when the workers are still in the fields? Grown in soil that’s never rotated with other crops,or allowed to replenish its nutrients naturally as opposed to chemical fertilizer “inputs”, or left fallow to recover? And then processed into frozen slices, shipped all over the country from a distribution center, and sauteed in the restaurant with a pre-bottled mouth-puckeringly salty false-appetite stimulating MSG sauce? No.
The slaughterhouse workers who kill cattle through the forehead with the bolt pistol at a rate of 250/hour (or one every 15 seconds), the chicken farmers who wear hazmat clothing and masks when they have to walk through the chicken houses, the feedlot workers/owners who herd the cattle to their manure lagoons and dirt pens. These people have set aside their empathy, that which makes them human, in order to do what they do. And for what? Nobody farms sheds full of thousands of sick chickens for the enjoyment, or for the husbandry. It’s dollars and cents, and it’s not the farmers or slaughterhouse workers who are getting rich. It’s the handful of big ag companies that are the driving force behind this unsustainable and abusive food system, and they won’t change their practices and policies until we stop buying their product.
After a few back and forths and evading the question, I resigned myself to the fact that she wasn’t going to leave me alone until she had an answer. I summed all of this information up for her in two lines.
Me: “Yes, it’s the wrong type of food. I don’t eat factory farmed meat, GMO corn and soy, processed foods in general, and MSG in particular.”
Her: “Oh….. that must be kinda hard”
Me: “No, not really. I have a blog where I talk about food quite a bit. http://thefarmerstaft.com“
All I’ve done is opt out of this system. That’s all. I just don’t give it my money. I opt out of being part of the headcount. This is usually not what people want to hear. In my experience, people don’t really want to know about this stuff. It’s more threatening than talking about religion. If you’re talking about religion, most people believe what they believe, and they are pretty confident in their choices. Speaking gently about it can be a pleasant experience, if an inquisitive and open attitude is used.
Food, however, is an area in which it seems very few people are confident about their choices. Conflicting information is everywhere. Marketing is aggressive and targeted. Food choices have to be made many times per day, every day. All of the experts have different, conflicting advice. Scientific research is always bringing altered information to light. The only safe topics in food conversations are “I like the taste of [x] because…”and “I don’t like [x] because of the taste.” or the most maddening, “Oh there’s too much [fat, carbs, whatever the sin nutrient of the moment is] in that, but it’s soooo goooood!”
How do YOU answer somebody who’s persistent in wanting to know why you’re opting out of whatever food is being offered? Do you lie? Are you evasive? Do you tell the truth, the whole truth, or a partial truth?