The anxiety is compounded based not only on choice, but also on taste and preference. Because of technology, we humans are capable of doing tremendous damage to the planet based on the decisions of what to eat. In fact, this is so serious, that Pollan notes that we now have the added dilemma of potentially devastating the ecology of some areas simply to provide a certain "taste" for x cuisine.
This is even more complex when we think about ethics and our treatment of animals. I had never realized just how unethical factory farming could be -- and how out of balance it is to raise thousands and thousands of chickens or turkeys in a hot barn that is so unhealthy for them that they have to be pumped full of antibiotics just to live; or the egg farms that pack chickens so tight their feet grow into the wires. This caused me to think -- it is not that we should not eat meat, but perhaps we should think about how we go about feeding ourselves so we can be more in tune with the one-world environment. Instead of pillaging areas, why not find ways to grow and raise food more sustainably?
This brings up another major point for me -- the idea of sustainability in all things. Before this class and the research on Pollan and Farmer's Markets, I saw the world in a more regional light -- the Arab World, the Asian World, the Developed World, etc. Instead, I learned about a new concept called Gaia, in which we can see the entire planet as a living thing. The Earth's forests are the lungs, processing and cleaning the air. The wind and waves are the bloodstream, moving air throughout the system. For instance, the Amazon Rain Forests are so vast and packed with trees that it seems painful to cut them down for a few pieces of furniture or so someone can raise more cattle. When we think of the two ideas of globalism and sustainability, we see that we have a true responsibility towards everyone in the world to help keep the environment healthy. If we do not, there will be no environment.
The idea of sustainability comes across in many ways that were new to me. When we build, we should try to build in a way that uses fewer resources and is more compatible with the environment. For instance, building houses in dry deserts should use solar and wind power, build partially underground, and landscape with natural arid-type plants. We should ask about the labor practices of the companies that supply our food and coffee, and only buy from ethical companies. We should try not to waste food, or purchase from places that use cruel or harsh chemicals to raise products. and, whether we change behaviors or not, we should realize that the lemon we use in the middle of winter has to be grown and shipped from somewhere warm -- and there is an environmental cost to this. Above all, and what hits very close to home for me, is our use of fossil fuels in a way that yes, makes certain areas of the world wealthy, but also pollutes and causes harm to other areas.
One of the best lessons for me when I combine my readings and research for this class is the idea of moderation. Humans need to eat meat, but that does not mean humans need to be cruel or to mass-produce. As a Muslim, I believe that we should treat animals and others in a respectful manner. However, I also come from a culture that thinks very little about ecology and sustainability. If we can take some of the basic concepts of Pollan's view of ethical behavior and combine them with the way Farmer's Markets are organized and set up, perhaps we can improve our own health and the health of the environment. The only way this will happen, though, is for people in the developed world to "vote with their wallet." If people stop purchasing meats from unethical farms, stop purchasing vegetables that are coated with chemicals and dyes, stop wasting fuel for themselves or by transporting goods off season, then the manufacturers and corporations might get the idea and change their own…