By Mike Barnett
I read and hear a lot about “real food,” and I’m always puzzled when someone or some group uses that phrase.
It’s usually in the context of local food or processed food, and the implication is if the food is not “whole,” or is grown by some other means, it’s inferior. Taken to the extreme, “real food” addresses social justice and, to buy it or eat it, it helps if you are politically correct.
Here’s a definition I picked off the website http://realfoodchallenge.org/: “‘Real food’ is food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth. It is a food system—from seed to plate—that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability. Some people call it ‘local,’ ‘green,’ ‘slow’ or ‘fair.’ We use ‘real food’ as a holistic term to bring together many of these diverse ideas people have about a values-based food economy.”
Now, I’m a huge fan of fresh food. I frequent farmers’ markets on the weekends, especially during the summer when the tomatoes and squash and cucumbers may have been picked fresh from the vine that morning. I don’t really care if it is organic or not. I do care that it is local, because I’m paying a premium to have the juice run down my chin when I take a bite out of that tempting tomato.
But most of the time I just go to H-E-B and buy fresh vegetables and fruits and my meat. More than likely this produce was not raised organically and my meat was grain-fed and contains a tiny bit of added hormones to promote growth in the cattle. And I’m more than likely going to pick up a loaf of white bread where the flour has been bleached and undergone further processing.
Is that food “fake”? Is it inferior or is it going to poison me because it’s been processed and pesticides were used to keep insects from devouring it before I can?
I resent the fact that, taken to the extremes, there are groups of elitists out there who cast aspersions on family farmers and ranchers who use modern production methods to place food on my plate every day. Those farmers and ranchers provide food and fiber in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. They know providing proper care for their livestock pays dividends when it’s time to go to market. Values are paramount as 98 percent of the farms in the U.S. are family operations.
It doesn’t matter if they are conventional, organic, local or anything else: Real Farmers grow Real Food providing Real Choices for Real People.
Don’t let anyone tell you different.