In the last 50 years, the North American diet has morphed form one that was based on cooking with raw fruits, vegetables and meats and grains to one that is primarily made up of pre-processed food that it is then just warmed up in the home.
In the process, salt, sugar, fat and preservative consumption has increased substantially along with calorie intake while vitamin, mineral, and nutrient levels have dropped dramatically. Even the raw fruits, vegetables and meats have issues with pesticide residues and antibiotic levels.
Why has our food system come to this? Convenience and price. We want the cheapest food possible and we want in a form that requires the least effort. And farmers and scientists have responded.
Cheap food can only grow in certain climates and with cheap labour, the largest cost in food production. So fruits are picked under-ripe and shipped across the globe. Cheap and long-lasting ingredients such as salt, palm oil, nitrates and high fructose corn syrup fill ingredient lists to make foods palatable.
Companies such as Monsanto-Bayer, Nestle, Unilever, Cargill and ADM control both the means of production (seed, fertilizer, chemicals) as well as the marketing and distribution.
And while North Americans might spend the lowest percentage of our income on food versus the rest of the planet, the cost is high. Fewer farm families are continuing to grow food. Rising rates of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, food allergies, and even some forms of cancer may be attributed to the things we put in our mouths.
Join local farmer and agronomist, Arzeena Hamir, in this discussion of our food system.
Hamir has both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture and was the food security co-ordinator in Richmond before moving to Courtenay to start a certified organic farm with her family. She has also worked in Thailand, India and Bangladesh, bringing a global perspective to her talk.
Once a month a speaker will introduce a theme to the Café, and then all who attend can join in respectful, non-partisan conversation, or just sit back and listen. You are welcome to propose topics and introduce them at future Cafés. Themes should be of broad interest and national significance, and have an element of controversy to them.
As with each Café, Arzeena Hamir will have just 10 minutes to introduce the topic, and then the floor is open for 50 minutes of moderated discussion.
The next Philosophers’ Café takes place from 7-8 p.m. in the community room at Berwick Comox Valley, 1700 Comox Ave., Comox, Wednesday, May 2.
There is no admission charge.