My vision for Aisle of Confusion is to help everyone make simple changes to their everyday food choices – for their health, their family’s health, and the “health” of the environment.
Most people I know are interested in a lifetime of good health and being “green,” caring for the environment and making sustainable decisions. Many of us exercise regularly, eat our vegetables, bring our own bags to the grocery store, shun bottled water, turn off the lights when we leave a room, turn off the water while we’re brushing our teeth, and maybe we even walk, carpool, cycle, or bus to work.
These are fantastic and important decisions; however, to be truly conscious of our impact on the environment, we need to have an understanding of our food choices. The environmental impacts of modern industrial agriculture are so great that I have begun to see food choices as ethical decisions. Much of the pollution of our land, air, and water comes from pesticides and fertilizers used in modern agriculture. Unfortunately these environmental impacts of the food industry are virtually ignored by mainstream media. I believe if we are exposed to the implications of our food choices, many of us will make different choices.
The modernization of the food industry has also brought with it huge impacts to human health. The rates of obesity, diabetes, non-smoking cancers, heart disease, and allergies continue to be alarming. And it seems almost every day there is a news story regarding food safety and food contamination.
What does Aisle of Confusion mean? Well, a grocery aisle seems to provide an array of choices, which, in itself, is confusing. In addition, the food choices we each make are deeply personal and often complicated; they are the result of traditions, religions, family values, social influences, advertising, news media, published studies, convenience, cost, availability, habits, knowledge, and personal preference – to name a few. No one wants to be told that perhaps his or her food choices are anything less than top notch. However, when I go to the grocery store or visit other people’s homes, I’m often disheartened and disappointed to see what folks place in the cart. Sugar-free jello, “juices” full of high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings, boxes of soda and diet soda, processed and packaged meat, packaged pastries and cookies, dinner in a box, frozen dinner in a bag, magical yogurts, and tubs of margarines with remarkable health claims. Where is the real food?!?
The food industry is focused on profit growth and shareholder value above all else. Their marketing efforts would have you believe your health and the health of our planet are their top concerns. Not so. Perhaps I’m an optomist, but I think different choices made by many people might force the food industry to adjust their values. Therefore, my goal for Aisle of Confusion is to provide food for thought (pardon the pun) to help readers make their own healthful and sustainable food choices. I hope to share stories and experiences resulting from my own food choices, to provide a forum for open discussion on food choices, to discuss current events, to identify obstacles, dilemmas, and difficulties with making good food choices, and to continue to explore and demystify the tangled web of corporations and government that make up the food industry.