You Are What You Eat

Me amid healthy-French-organic-(at times free-trade) gastronomie at its height. Paradise.

Today I attended Eurogusto, an exposition of responsible Slow Food International. Probably half of Europe’s eco-friendly producers and a few of their free trade counterparts from operations in Africa and South America showed up. Within an enormous hall, rows upon rows of vendors skirted around various stages for teaching French cooking techniques or debates etc.


Slow Food = you make it yourself then enjoy while sitting down with other people.

And was my tummy was happy to have liberally partaken because one presentation went well past the topic of “Rats of the City and Rats of the Country: Can we understand each other!?” The panelists began slowly and ended heatedly which obliged me to a second round of taste-testing… amidst bits of free-range goat cheese and piles of free-trade spices, I stumbled upon an exhibit called “4 Cities 4 Dev.”  Each cardboard panel explained how we are what we eat with these one-liners (translated, of course):

–Dignity and Pride: Keep employment and stability for farmers.

–Forests: Every 2 seconds, we deforest the size of a football field.

–Farmers without Land: “Land-grabbing” is common to developing countries where corporations set up monoculture crops amounting to the size of Spain.

–Industrial vs. Small Scale: Monoculture crops use pesticides and fertilizers which impoverishment the soil and the smaller farmers.

–Desertification: 12 million hectors are rendered unusable every year due to climate change, unrestrained use of pesticides and fertilizers, water abuse, and monocultures.

–Say Yes to Local Varieties: It’s an opportunity to support local markets.

–No to Monoculture: Eating in season guarantees food available in that season and removes dependence on oscillating prices set by corporations.

–Out of the Cage: Nearly all of our chickens are from batteries whereby 5 or 6 are shoved in a cage and force-fed. The meat industry in general fancies caged situations.

–Eat Less Meat: 1 kilogram of beef requires 7 kilograms of grain and 15,000 L of water.

–Stop GMOS: Most if not all of genetically engineered crops go to animal feed and bio-fuels instead of the hungry.

–Losing Assets: 90 % of the market of one of the most important agricultural aspects, the seed, is controlled by 10 nations.

–Seas without Fish: 80% of the fish stocks are overexploited. Eat local fish obtained through traditional methods.

–Plundering African Waters: Corporations from China, the US, and the like are buying fishing licenses indiscriminately and robbing the local people of their means of living.

–Water: 70% of the human body to which 1.5 million people in this world do not have clean access. It might be the big business of the 21st century.

And I felt sick taking in number after number whirring around terms of biodiversity and community.  7,000,000,000 mouths and counting… 700,000,000 cases of obesity estimated for 2015… 30,000 children die daily of starvation… 60% of those who starve are women and children… 60-80 % of developing countries’ exports come from their efforts… 30 % of what they produce is wasted annually…

My thoughts brewed with the Wednesday/Saturday market in Tours. 3 minutes under running water serves just as well as 5 minutes. Use two lights not ten. Is there a charity for that? Do I need that new ___ which supports some Asian sweatshop, my consumer mentality, and the local landfill?! Amidst old and young faces, an image of a community half-clinic, half-garden started to materialize. Then everything, like most dreams of grown-ups, went blank, and I bit into an organic cookie with an expectant crunch.