The Macro View

In the northern SF Bay Area, foodie culture would have us believe that sinking one's teeth into an heirloom tomato or sipping biodynamic wine can be lifechanging. I don't really dispute the possibility for some, but I do contend that for all of the "connection to nature" rhetoric we small-scale food producers and groupies espouse, luscious leafy greens only go so far to move the needle towards a more conscientious culture.

Don't get me wrong - I'm definitely not knocking fruits and veggies. Besides grazing cattle, I'm a fruit grower and a former veggie farmer. It goes without saying that nutrition is essential and, long term, full bellies are not enough. We must be truly nourished. 

But veggies shouldn't be doing all of the heavy lifting when it comes to calibrating our connection to ecosystems that support us. Worse, emphasizing the value of veggies over and above the sources of macronutrients creates an illusion of purity that subsequently allows mechanized and monocultured ag to run amock. 

For me, this is as much a social issue as ecological one. For one, I think this kind of rhetoric creates a lot of shame surrounding animal fat, animal protein, and calories from annual crops. We lambast "industrial agriculture" for its grain monocultures, yet we still depend on those products to keep us alive. We literally ARE the corn fields in Iowa and the wheat fields in Kansas. The soil and atmosphere of distant lands have been woven into our physical fabric. 

And I'm no different. My fridge may be full of tomato and zucchini, and my freezer is practically overflowing with grassfed beef. But open the cupboard and you'll see bags and bins of rice and beans. That righteous BLT I had today was held together with bread. It my be organic, and that's the best I can do for now. Yet the best I (or we) can do is far from the direction US agriculture must be marching. And if we're not honest about that, we're not going anywhere. 

Well-grown veggies can nourish and inspire. But where we get fat, carbohydrates, and protein has the most to say about whether we can be sustained by our climate and our ecosystems. Besides... it's really hard to change one's mind on an empty stomach.