Some people, like yours truly, spend way too much time reading about food, thinking about food, shopping for food and talking about food. Yet even in a world of glossy food magazines, 'round-the-clock food television, and celebrity chefs who spend more time with klieg lights than oven lights, too few people think about their food meaningfully: Where does my food come from? And what do the contents of my fridge have to do with the health of the planet?
Anna LappÃ, on the other hand, has spent a lifetime considering these very questions. The daughter of noted food activist Frances Moore LappÃ, Anna LappÃ helped found the Small Planet Institute and just co-authored, with Bryant Terry, a feisty new guide to making healthy food choices. It's called Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen.
She recently answered some questions about her new book and the importance of conscious dining.
Your new book is called Grub. What's grub?
Grub is food that's local, sustainable and fairly made. Grub is food for everyone, not just people that live in certain zip codes. The down-home association many have with the word is why it works: Grub should be everyone's food.
What's keeping grub from being our food?
Unfortunately, many things block us from the food we recommend in the book. The biggest barrier isn't something you or I do as individuals, though. The biggest barrier comes from the top. We have a schizophrenic government who on the one hand proposes dietary guidelines that urge us to eat more fruits and veggies, while simultaneously subsidizing the big farms that produce the commodity crops that get used to make highly processed foods and feed factory-farmed animals. So we continue along a path of industrialized, bad-for-us food.
What about cost? Organic often costs more, which some people can't afford.
It certainly can be more expensive to choose the organic vs. non-organic option, but it's important to look at the costs of the overall diet. For instance, by cutting out store-bought soda, tea and juice ' most of which is high-fructose corn syrup and water ' you can save money to spend on the slightly more expensive food.
What can each of us do to support a different food system?
While it may seem overwhelming to make a change, there are actually many things we can do to make a difference. First, we all must eat, every day, so one of the things we can do daily is make conscious choices about the foods we buy and eat. Source as much of your food as you can from local farms and locally owned businesses. We can also speak up as citizens for policies that reflect our values. Thankfully, more opportunities emerge each day for the average anyone to find and choose grub. I hope that these will continue to flourish and that new policies will be put in place so that we all can choose grub all of the time.
Anna LappÃ will be speaking and signing copies of Grub at the Food for Thought Festival, Madison's annual celebration of food and sustainability. The fest is Sept. 16 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. See www.reapfoodgroup.org for more information.