Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Cauliflower Conundrum

Last week was an odd one, to be sure. Part of the problem was with our vehicle which meant I didn't get to the farm for my weekly produce pickup. No produce pickup = slim pickings for the rest of the week. So, in desperation, I trundled off to our local grocery store.

I wanted a cauliflower. That's it, just a cauliflower. It's still in season, there's plenty of them locally (I know, I see them at the farmer's markets all the time). There's nothing rare or exotic in my request. I was just looking for a plain ole' white cauliflower. Organic, please. Oh, and make it local so it's not dripping in petrochemicals. That would be nice.

Yah, like that.

I had two choices. I could pick the nice, jumbo cauliflower that was grown locally or I could buy the organic cauliflower that came from 'industrialized organic' in California. What's a girl to do? Of course, I want to buy local, but if it's not organic and I don't know the farmer, or even what farm it came from, how can I know how that cauliflower was grown?  Pesticides, fungicides, GMOs, sewage sludge application, chemical fertilizers?  What secrets does that cauliflower house in its pretty white florets? And the other? That organic cauliflower didn't have human waste or chemical fertilizers spread on its soil, but how was it produced? What are 'big organics' principles when it comes to preserving our soil? Do they even care about being true caretakers of the land, of ensuring that those fields are still viable when our kids inherit them to grow their food on?

Cauliflower bones for as far as the eye can see.

For me, eating sludge is a deal breaker. 80% of the sewage sludge in Ontario is now spread across agricultural land. If you think it's any different in your part of the world, a quick Google search may surprise you, especially if you live in North America. Sewage sludge, concentrated with heavy metals, volatile chemicals, and disease-causing pathogenic organisms has been used for years on most of our agricultural land. So, I'd say the odds are pretty good that the local, conventional cauliflower I'm looking at came from a toxic field.  I believe in organic food, but it has to be more than that. I don't want organic cauliflower from some massive monocrop of cauliflowers shipped into Canada all the way from California. Rocket fuel, anyone?

Anything that grows on soil (that would be everything that lives, including us) depends on the quality of that soil to deliver the nutrients and bacteria within for our very survival. We've become removed from our understanding of just how dependent we are on dirt. We assume we get our vitamins and minerals from plates of veggies and good meat. Here's the clincher, where do you think the vegetables, fruits, and meats get their nutrients from? Soil, of course. Anything that is grown or raised in depleted soil is degraded right from the get go. Add to that prolonged storage and shipping, refining, and processing. No wonder our bloated bodies are still crying out for more food. We are, as the great Raj Patel so eloquently expains in his book, "Stuffed and Starved".

What of that cauliflower that was grown in questionable soil, on land that is not diversified and respected? Land that is only asked to give more with no understanding or questioning of what it is that it actually needs. The cauliflower, already in a sate of nutrient deficiency, gets thrown on a truck and travels thousands of kilometres to my local store where it then sits some more. Now what's happened to the vitamins and minerals that were already lacking? Who wants a two week old cauliflower? There's no life force left in that lowly little plant. Sure, there's probably a few vitamins and minerals that your body could squeeze out of it, but that's not how our bodies thrive. No wonder we're all starving, our bodies are desperate for the ingredients they need to build these wondrous temples of ours.

I didn't get the cauliflower. We're eating kale (again) with our grass fed beef roast tonight. We need to change our food policies. Everyone of us should have the right to buy local food that is grown and raised in a manner that supports our environment and our health. Human poop cauliflowers be damned.

Get on it: