Thursday, June 18, 2009

Food, Inc.

If you eat the Standard American Diet (or as I call it, the Silly American Diet), Food, Inc. Robert Kenner's documentary about America's food industry may be hard to stomach.  Go see it, anyway.  Because we can't be healthy if our food system is sick.

With the help of Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma), Kenner reveals the handful of corporations, including Monsanto, Tyson and Smithfield, that run our nation's food supply.  Without adequate governmental oversight, they're free to flood our markets with products that compromise our health and the health of the environment every step of the way, from the factory system where they're produced to our tables. 

Much of this I knew.  What saddened me most is that we've become a nation of the silenced, that we feel helpless, that we can't speak out.  But we can.  There's Kenner and there's the Davids he features who face down the Goliaths of the food biz, like one chicken farmer who dared speak out against Tyson, though it meant losing her job and her farm, like the mom who turned food advocate after her son died of eating tainted meat.  If these guys can do it, so can we. We can, as Michael Pollan puts it, vote with our forks.  And our wallets.  

We're spending more on local food, up 49 percent from 2002.  Keep it up.  Buy from your local farmers market. Say no to processed food.  Become part of community-shared agriculture (CSA).  Small steps and conscious acts make a difference.  I believe this.  Because if that's not true, then we're screwed and I cannot accept that.  

Food, Inc. reminds me of the myth of Pandora. What Kenner shows is the world of woe our food system has become.  But there's hope, too.  And guess what? We're it.

For this recipe, I wanted something simple, soulful and sustainable -- to show how wonderful elemental, fresh food can be.  Lofty aspirations, but not much time or ingredients -- a garden full of mint and some walnuts.  From that comes alchemy by way of

Hope for Tomorrow Walnut-Mint Pesto

1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
1 cup mint
1/4 cup olive oil (another tablespoon or 2 if you like your pesto on the moister side)
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 375.  Pour walnuts into a shallow baking pan and lightly toast, for about 6 to 8 minutes.

Pour walnuts and all other ingredients into blender or food processor and blitz for a minute or until smooth.

Makes 2/3 cup.  Amazing atop any fresh vegetable and, according to a happy nonvegan, very good on the Irish soda bread from my June 15 post.

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