Friday, February 22, 2013

Talking about Food

How can we talk about food?

It is an incredibly complex issue. It is impossible to discuss diet without raising issues of economics, ethics, and consciousness that would take many books -- if not lifetimes -- to give ample time and consideration.

It's easy enough to see sex as the central issue of life. One could say that it is death that in fact sheds the greatest life upon life. But maybe a more biological perspective would be that it is food that leads us most evenly to all the central issues of life. Our very history is contained in the culture of our food.
"How is food a perfect road map of myth? In the same way that it tells the story of history. It tells of interbreeding, it tells of times of peace, it tells of rape and pillaging, of occupation, of diaspora and exodus."
"You are what you eat." Maybe so. But what led us to decide what we should eat, and what we should avoid? What level of responsibility do we have as individuals for the cultural and global repercussions of our food choices?

Most of us are not prepared for this. We are provided food as a child, and take on the habits that presented to us. Or perhaps as a teenager we rebel against these cultural habits, so that Veganism is to mainstream America in this light much like Satanism is to Catholicism.

The ethical dimension of food also brings in knee-jerk reactions. I lived in a house of 7 college students my junior year. Three of the housemates were vegan, two were vegetarian, and two were meat eaters. This lead to food wars, with bacon thrown in the trash leading to bacon put in beds lead to--well, it escalated, and got quite ugly. So food politics involve dehumanization, as well.

Those ethical issues, and the fact that culture is so blindly inherited by many people--though less so by the average Modern Mythology or Mythos Media reader I'll wager--make it deeply challenging. They charge it through with emotions and posturing and politics.

There have been a rash of food politics documentaries--you can find plenty of them on Netflix--that deal with the economic dimensions of food. These are not without their own political agendas, explicit or silent. Though some of this is questionable at best, it certainly isn't entirely empty alarmism. Consider the medical system in the Unites States, a system that is broken by almost all standards of sanity, which should be a guardianship of the body, has turned so wholeheartedly to the interests of the pharmaceutical industry that you almost never have a doctor ask you about your diet before they prescribe all kinds of medicines which, despite supposedly stringent FDA requirements, can often lead to dependence, delirium, and death. (Many psych meds have withdrawal syndromes that make opiates seem like a walk in the park. I've experienced this firsthand.)

That too could be the subject of an entire series of posts, of a book, a hundred, or many lifetimes. It's all a question of how closely you want to look at something. But I am introducing these ideas to point out how diet ties into nearly every level of our lives, from the cultural to the biological.

So rather than preaching on this, I'd simply offer that you take the time to think about your diet, and spend several weeks at the very least looking into the scientific, economic, health, and ethical considerations involved in eating the way that you do. Ask yourself at the conclusion of this time if you want to continue this way. This is not a decision to be made out of guilt, nor is it one that anyone else can make for us. I say that if an individual does even just that, they are as free as any of us are to live by their decisions.

It is the thoughtlessness involved in our diet that makes us potentially feckless. You see, everything is connected. Certainly the vegan diet claims to see it so. It is the claim of veganism that they are providing a cruelty free option--ignoring the thousands of mice that are chopped to pieces whenever a field is plowed, or all the insects they are eating in their cruelty free cereal--but as absurd or even hypocritical as this Jainist approach to dining can be, it is at least a decision that was arrived at through some contemplation of diet. Maybe it was a kneejerk response against the very idea of cruelty and death, as if by choosing to buy vegan products you can make the circle of life stand still.

How much consideration do you think the average hotdog and hamburger loving american has given to their food? They shy away from any food that shows its source, they don't want animals to have faces, nor even cookies to show their grain. Everything must be homogenized, made self-same, identical, and essentially mild. It is the embodiment of food product.

So... Please take the challenge I provided before seriously. Spend some time thinking about and researching your dietary choices, and own it. Consider the possibility that we may change, and that the decisions that were right for us yesterday may not be right today. Most importantly, this is not something for anyone else to judge for you, but it is something worth of real personal judgement and consideration, not hand-waving and a joke based around stereotypes. Nothing like the things that vegans and meat eaters say about one another. It's yet another way for us to label ourselves, label others, and judge others and ourselves based on those labels.

Transcend all labels.

For the record, I am an omnivore and that includes eating meat. I have eaten organs, animals with their "faces" on, and I see this as participating in the nature provided to me by my genes. Just look at our teeth. We are natural omnivores. Now, some people can make the unnatural decision to become vegetarian or even vegan, and should that decision win out, perhaps one day we will chomp on grains like cows. But if I could pray to be like any other animal in this great planet we have come to consciousness on, it would be the panther, the tiger, even the crocodile, not the gazelle or cow. Eating meat is a part of who and what I am, though I do my best to choose animals that were allowed to live their natures as fully as possible (paying a premium for it when I have to) before the bolt pulverizes their brain.

I do not expect you to come to the same decision as me or to judge me for living my nature any more than I will judge you for your decision. Just please make it a decision. Own it.

Thank you, and good night.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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