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Mae Humiston & Sara Gardner | Let’s Talk About Food

Eating forlife

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 08:12

This is goodbye, dear reader. We’ve had a good run. Shall we reflect on the times we’ve had?

Over the course of the semester, we’ve explained some of the issues raised by the food movement including resource−intensive production, fossil−fuel gobbling transportation, unequal access, consumption and wasteful disposal. We’ve also touched briefly upon the role of food in our culture and society. In roughly 600 words per week, we have tried to give you the tools and resources to start changing your place in the food system. Remember to compost, consider getting a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, hit up your local farmers’ markets, take a food−focused course, try growing some food of your own and, please, start talking about food to your friends, family and cafeteria providers.

It’s this last point that is most valuable, especially in an institution of learning like Tufts. The food system is something we are all a part of, but a large number of people do not necessarily benefit from the way it is now. The food system is applicable to almost any major. Peace and justice studies student? The food system is rife with inequality, racist policy, exploitation and cultural stigmatization. Working on environmental issues? The practices of the industrial agriculture model are some of the most destructive and harmful procedures being done on the earth, and their continuation will almost certainly leave future generations worse off. Interested in economics or political science? Since food is a basic human necessity, the ability to control it is a potent source of power. Exploring the power relations and their manifestation in the market and around the globe is a great exercise in thinking about global economics and policy. Engineering student? Where do you think all the science, tools and infrastructure used in agriculture come from?

It is useful, then, to consider where or how food systems studies can fit into your academic and social life. You don’t have to write every paper or do every project on food, but by giving it at least a moment’s thought, you can train yourself to be more aware of the all−reaching nature of the food system and its puppeteers. None of us want cancer and almost all of us enjoy a little escape to the woods, a trip to the farmers’ market and a home−cooked meal. By paying attention to issues raised by the food movement, such as knowing what is in our food, how workers are treated or what pesticides farms have sprayed beside our homes, we come closer to ensuring that we, our friends and our families can enjoy food in safer ways.

Our aim has not been to scare you, but rather bring your attention to some of the big issues at hand. At the moment, it is easy for us, as privileged students, to eat food without really considering the back−story. Though it doesn’t seem like this now, these problems are pressing. As time goes on, food prices are expected to rise, famines will strike and you won’t be able to eat bacon. Paying attention now, asking questions and demanding change may help alleviate some of the future damage. All it takes are simple changes in our food habits to propagate widespread change.

It’s been a pleasure to share with you all our knowledge on the food system. And on that note, good luck with finals! Try to keep your stress eating healthy — or even better, local and organic!

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Sara Gardner is a freshman who has not yet a declared a major. She can be reached at Sara.Gardner@tufts.edu. Mae Humiston is a senior majoring in anthropology. She can be reached at Mae.Humiston@tufts.edu.

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