Thursday, October 7, 2010

OPINION: Real Food for Real People

Magdalena Potluck
By Margaret Wiltshire

Are masses of people likely to behave as a herd of animals?  We are the great thinking tribe, adaptors and survivors.  We prize our individuality as much or more than our social relationships. Often we follow the leader and follow the crowd.
Since we started eating meat to ward off cold and feed brain and muscle, we have increased our numbers incredibly.  We are told the concentration camps used for meat and egg production are a necessary evil.  We could not afford eggs, milk, or meat the way they were once raised. On our dairy farm we knew the personalities and had names for most of our cows.  The cows of habit who moved easily through each day, the loners and those whose spirits were never really domesticated, a village of unique personalities left our barn each morning.
When my grandpa retired he became a sheepherder.  No matter what you’ve been told, sheep have great variety in personality traits.   There were family groups and explorers.  I knew one female who acted like she was an Alpha ram.  If you turned your back on her you learned multiple meanings of the word butt.
Cattle ranching may be different, since herds graze vast areas sometimes far from home, ranchers may not “know” individual animals well.  I’d bet that the unique personalities of cattle stand out at branding sessions, roping and herding events.
Living in Magdalena for a dozen years, it’s hard for me to imagine what it must be like to live in city towers or in housing developments thousands of acres wide.  Sixty years ago you could get 250 acres of good farm land for 10K and a good house for 5K.  Twenty-five or thirty years ago you could get a good fixer upper for 5-10K in some places. 
250 acres of good farm land is a rare find and beyond the pocketbook of most people.  Houses on what was our farm have cost their owners hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Like most of us, they buy their milk from dairy concentration camps.
The past doesn’t exist now.  What we remember will never be the whole truth, just what we remember.  The best we can get from the past are good stories that may help in the future.  The future doesn’t exist and your existence in it has no warranty.
So how do you spend each day?  Each hour, minute or moment is yours only once. The life you have is yours only once.  What ever you believe, or don’t believe, in future life, it won’t be the one you are having now.
Around the world and in Magdalena, in Socorro and Catron Counties we have individuals exploring food production in alternative ways from the massed produced meat, egg, milk, and vegetable industries.  More and more people are choosing fewer processed foods and doing more cooking from scratch.
Still many in our huge human herd won’t be bothered with the effort.  Some won’t have the time, health, land, and water.  Others just don’t care.  Often with people, and I imagine animals too, just being crowded together competing for the most basic things is exhausting and depleting.  A depressed apathy sets in.  We have pills for that too.
Research says that processed foods are not “good” for us.  They suggest that many ills, like diabetes II and heart and artery problems are caused by many of the processed foods we consume.  The white foods like flour and sugar are very destructive.  In spite of all this, more people in the human herd are living longer then ever before.  If sitting in front of the TV is considered living.
The animals and plants we consume are given drugs or treated with chemicals to keep them productively alive for us.  We in turn take drugs to keep ourselves alive after we consume years of this mass produced food.  It doesn’t work well but it does work.  The cost can be outrageous.
Real food for real people.  What’s old is new.
Speaking of old and worthy, the Hopi have been doing high and dry farming successfully for a thousand years, give or take a little.  To learn about some of their farming techniques you can google words like Hopi farming, dry farming, swale gardening.

Tentative: Plans are being made to thank and honor Lucy Pino for all her wonderful years of service at our community library.  As I understand it now, it will be a pot luck at the library, Oct. 30, 2010.  We will confirm in our next column.

Reminder: Grizz yard sale. Oct 8 and 9, 9am-1pm Magdalena Fire Dept.  A good event!

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