We are literally made of the food we eat. Our physical bodies are created directly from what we consume, and our energy levels and mental attention are highly influenced by our diet. At the same time, food is the earth. It is seed, soil, water, sunlight, microorganisms, and nutrients. Through food, we reaffirm the way in which we are the earth and the earth is us.
Those who grow our food—whether right next-door or across the world—also affect us, and vice versa. Our food choices and what we are willing to pay impacts the farmers, and how those farmers cultivate food impacts our health and well-being.
But what should we do with this truth of inter-connection? If we ignore it, we are likely to continue allowing our food systems to contribute to disease and degradation. Yet if we expand our awareness and change how we grow, consume, and share food, we have a chance to restore and revitalize the system. It’s up to us.
Eating Oil, Spewing Gas
Today, virtually all the productive land on the planet has been exploited by industrialized agriculture. In order to produce more from the land we have, innovations have been developed—mostly by U.S. corporations—to kill pests (chemical insecticides), increase yields (irrigation, chemical fertilizer, hybrid plants) and till and harvest more quickly (diesel-powered farm equipment).
Our reliance on fossil fuels for chemical fertilizers and pesticides and for farm equipment and transportation has caused agriculture to be one of the highest contributors to global CO2 emissions. The livestock sector of agriculture alone generates more greenhouse gasses than driving cars. "We are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases," wrote author and food expert Michael Pollan in a 2008 New York Times Magazine article.