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Monday, 4 January 2010

So how does a meat-loving, fast-food devouring, non-granola/fish/healthy food of any type-eating Jewess end up at a food conference?



Seriously…unlike some folks who can link the origins of their commitment to vegetarianism to the documentary they saw on slaughterhouses, there was no watershed moment that started me on this unlikely path.

A little background. I am a very picky eater. I have always been a picky eater. Fish is too fishy. Veggies are too bitter. A lot of fruit has a weird texture. On top of it all, I don’t eat pork (or pork by-products), shellfish (or shellfish by-products), or combine dairy and meat.

That’s not to say that I cannot find anything to suit my palate. If its fried, sweet, crunchy, processed, or white (think bread, pasta, potatoes) — chances are likely that it will score points in my book.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that between my eating habits (and a genetic predisposition that seems to have skipped a generation), I have struggled with weight and eating issues since my preteen years. Or what is now known as the ‘tween years. I don’t want my children to be saddled with my meshugas. I want them to enjoy food. I want eating to be a pleasurable experience for them. I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want their bodies to be strong and fit and healthy. And I don’t know how to do this.

A trip to the neighbourhood grocery store uncovers a cornucopia of choices. “Natural.” “Organic.” “Free-Range.” “Grass-fed.” “Hormone-Free.” But what do these labels really mean? A closer examination reveals that some of them are utterly meaningless. For example, there is no legal definition for “natural” or “free-range.” How am I, the consumer, supposed to make heads-or-tails of it all?

    Be a clearing house for ideas:

Inspire and motivate participants to think more deeply and broadly about their food choices and food systems.

Remember this?? The first goal of the Hazon Conference. Just one hour after my arrival at the breathtaking Asilomar Conference Center, I was confronted with the first of many very difficult decisions; which session should I attend?? Given that this would be my first food conference, I figured that I ought to start with something that would give me a good foundation for the rest of the sessions.

The Greenwashing of Food: Be an Informed Consumer seemed like a good introduction to food issues. And it turned out to be a wise choice. Led by Denise Garbinski, participants were given clear ideas on what constitutes organic as well as how agribusinesses are using the current food trends to their advantage. It was eye-opening.

There was no expectation that everyone at the conference be on the same page when it comes to food issues. The expectation was that all participants would be open to new information and willing to consider all sides of an issue before formulating an opinion. Always with respect for those who were not in agreement. From the very first session I attended, I felt inspired and challenged to consider and reconsider how I think about food.

Goal: exceeded expectation!

[Incidentally, the picture at the top of this post is the logo for the Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness. A division of the COCA-COLA COMPANY!!!!]

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Monday, 4 January 2010 11:09 am

    so what were some of her most eye-opening lessons?

    and good for you for being openminded!!!!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Monday, 4 January 2010 3:11 pm

      The biggest one is that even companies that market themselves as “green” are often misrepresenting themselves. For me, it was that Horizon Organic Milk has a really good PR dept. the copy that can be found on their website does a really good job at making the consumer feel as though (in this case) she is making a really healthy choice for her family. But things are not as they appear. For example, I learned that the fact that their cows have “access to pasture” does not actually mean that they are roaming the range all day long. Also, the pictures of happy, local farmers gives the impression that small, local farms are supported by their company and that is not the case.

      One consistent message I received in session after session is that the only way to be certain that animals or produce is being grown according to a set of standards is to visit the farm.

  2. knittnkitten permalink
    Monday, 4 January 2010 8:00 pm

    Horizon just lost their organic status (along with the parent company) I think.

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