Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Sunday May 17, 2009

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Food, Inc. - It’s time to go back to the old ways

I am not a movie critic. What I am is a home cook and a consumer of food. As you get to know me, you will learn that my childhood upbringing has deeply impacted my attitudes about food.  My grandfather was a butcher in the 1940's and 1950's. I remember the McDonalds jingle, "McDonalds is my kind of place, it's such a happy place" and their plea to look for the golden arches. As kids we so wanted to go to McDonalds. But my grandfather did not allow us to eat McDonalds (and we felt like outcasts). He said with a distasteful look on his face, "It's not real meat - it's worse than horse meat."  How lucky I was to have him!! What a sage man. He knew. He witnessed how the meat industry had changed. He was no longer connected to the farmers that provided meat to his shop so he closed his shop. He knew.

So, as I sat through the movie, in tears at times, enraged and disgusted at other times, I knew I wanted to write about it. It hit many of my pet peeves like "there are no seasons" in the grocery store and tomatoes are ripened with ethylene gas, not the sun. Monoculture factory farms are horrifying and the treatment of the animals and the laborers beyond words. It made me feel happy and proud about my choices to be a member of 2 CSA's (community supported agriculture), grow a vegetable garden, can and preserve the local harvest, buy local grass fed beef and lamb from farmers that I know on land where I can see their livestock graze.
It has also made my conviction about Heirloom Meals even stronger. The US may not have a food culture but most of us had/have a food culture handed down to us through the generations. Dust off those recipes, talk to your grandparents, great aunts and uncles, parents. Let's get back to the home cooked meal with real ingredients. Let's demand that food stores provide those choices. I agree with Gary Hirshberg of Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt - we should all vote with our purchases at the grocery store. Choose organic or locally grown. Choose healthy eating and sharing meals. And demand to know your farmer!! 
Please see this movie.  You can see the trailer here.