By Gene Hall
“The race is on…Slow Food is running up the backstretch, Starvation’s going to the inside. My fears are holding back, agriculture cannot fall…”
Forgive me, George Jones, for butchering your song. But I need to make a point. I ain’t scared of my food. I know what I should eat and how much, though I don’t always follow my own rules. I do know my food is as safe as it’s ever been. I’m a tough target for the food police because I know better. What am I afraid of? I’m afraid of losing the race.
What race? We’ll get to that in a minute. But we are letting the self-appointed food police make us terrified of our food. That’s a real shame, because it is today more carefully grown, more regulated, as affordable and as safe as any food supply in the recorded history of humanity.
Grass-fed beef? I’ll eat it if the grain-fed variety is not available. Fattened on biotech corn? Bring it on…cooked medium please. High fructose corn syrup? My body doesn’t know the difference between that and other sugars. I should not eat too much of any of them, but I am not afraid of pecan pie or my Jelly Bellys.
Meanwhile, while we’re told most everything we eat is bad for us, the race is heating up. The finish line is the year 2050. I will not likely get there, but I fear for many of those who will. We’ll have more than nine billion people on the planet by then—two billion more than now.
Starvation is the favorite horse in this race. He has a head start. Others will run, too. Slow Food, Real Food—excuse me, but which food is it that’s “imaginary?” Local Food—and several other pop culture buzzword names and causes—will come and go. By themselves, all of these will be left in the dust. They don’t have a chance. There is a strong dark horse entry, though. His name is Technology. He’ll win, too, if we don’t force him to carry too much dead weight.
And of course, some—celebrity chefs, Hollywood elites and other food police—will choose to sit near the starting line, never really getting into the race, totally absorbed in a game of Trivial Pursuit.
Seriously now, all of these production systems have a role to play in producing food. But let’s face it. We need to produce a heck of a lot of it in the decades ahead to win this race. Let’s figure out a way to do it together.