Monday, February 09, 2009

What are they going to eat?

What are they going to eat?

Several of my friends have a problem. At least, I consider it to be a problem. They are picky eaters. I mean, really picky eaters. Most of them won’t eat soup. Or any salad more complex than the standard Caesar. They won’t eat greens. Or beans. Or squash. Most of their meals come from a drive thru. My best friend also has that strange almost disorder where she can’t stand it when different foods are touching. (Hence the reason she won’t eat soup: too many different foods mixed up.)

The next segment of my generation, who are currently between about 14 and 21, are even worse. Every single thing the majority of them eat comes from a drive thru, a box, or a bag. They’ve never seen raw meat, much less a chicken. They’ve never eaten a carrot. They know what peanut butter is but not peanuts. Step down the age ladder a bit more, and you see the same patterns, only even worse. Not too long ago I heard a six-year-old, when asked where a tomato comes from, proudly proclaim that they come from a certain big box store based in Arkansas.

I don’t think I need to go in-depth into the problems facing our world. Every one who reads this blog is certainly aware of them. But here’s a short list: economic depression, climate change, topsoil depletion, peak oil, peak water, drought, genetic engineering, and the breakdown of the industrial food system. This last is what concerns me most. Anyone with eyes to see can tell that our system of food production is slowly breaking down. This is only going to accelerate as time wears on and these other problems become worse. Relocalization is not really an option. It is going to be forced on us sooner rather than later. All of our food production is going to have to be done closer to home. Before many more years have passed there will be no more McDonald’s, no more Wendy’s or Subway or Burger King. There will be no more 3,000 mile Caesar Salads or chicken mcnuggets from a bag. No more corn chips, cheezdoodles, and soda pop.

Which has me seriously worried. Not so much for myself. I can grow food. I can find food –I know most of the local edible plants. I can even hunt if I get hungry enough. Oh, I wouldn’t want to, but I could and would. Not so most of my friends and the others my age and younger. Which leads me to a very important question:

What are they going to eat?

We are talking about people to whom food comes from a can. They could not recognize a carrot plant, or an okra plant, and wouldn’t know what to do with a carrot or some okra if they had it. They might recognize a tomato plant, if it had a red ripe tomato on it, but that is about the extent of their knowledge. Most of them wouldn’t know a pecan if one hit them on the head (quite literally, as that is often what happens). We have an entire generation and half of another one, with very few exceptions, who do not know what real food is. They do not know what it looks like or tastes like, how to grow it or how to cook it.

As the growth economy and the industrial food system continues their contraction and conditions deteriorate further, all those things mentioned above are going to slowly disappear. What are these children and young adults going to do? Are they slowly going to transition to squash and beans and soup, will they riot in the streets demanding their cheez doodles back, or are they going to go hungry? This is not an idle concern, especially as so many of those in this category are children and they are totally dependent on their parents, who have trained them to like this food (which they probably also eat) and who also do not have the skills necessary to grow or cook real food.

And none of this takes into account the very addictive properties of MSG. A major dietary shift coupled with withdrawal? That’s a recipe for disaster.

If you know someone who falls into this category and you have any influence over them at all, you can start trying to get them used to ‘real food’ now. Start slow. Invite him/her over to dinner if the person is a young adult and serve real food. For children, have some real snacks out the next time they come over. It is often necessary to eat a new food several times before adjustment takes place. At the very least, introducing these young people to real food now might help them to make the adjustment later. As for the rest…the Goddess help us. We are going to need it.



Blogger Frugal Pursuit said...

While I understand your cynicism, there are people and children out there who do know what real fruits and vegetables are and do not live on carryout or convenience foods alone. It is certainly easy to think "why don't people see what they are doing--all that garbage they generate, the low-nutrition food they eat", but inviting all the people over for a meal or 20 is an expensive proposition and your guests will not change unless they want to or decide cooking for themselves is a priority.

2/09/2009 8:52 AM  
Blogger SoapBoxTech said...

If you look at any species in the natural world, the process which occurs once their population grows too large for the biosphere remains pretty much the same across the board; the biosphere is stressed or damaged, then disease begins to run rampant in the over-populated species, then starvation hits the population which rapidly knocks the numbers back down.

Humanity has been able to delay the process greatly, but the outcome is inevitable.

2/09/2009 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good question. What will people eat, since real food has been devalued (ignored) in favor of fashion (style) manufacturing and celebrity creationism for investment profit...

Strange world we live in, in how there are no glitzy international "Award Ceremonies" such as the grammies... for Farmers...?

Take a hard and long look at the "Real View" of the global economic collapse that is happening right now:

Coming to America???

Ahhh, but I wonder if Britney Spears knows how to cook, or grow food. And what about her fanzzzzzzz? [W.M.D. Weapons of Mass Distraction].

The most important question I have heard this year, and will continue to be, until 23.8% of the food consuming people (zombies) wake up to realize the value of farm labor and local food security:

"Who is Your Farmer?"

2/09/2009 1:15 PM  
Anonymous grey said...

They will adapt. Hunger is a powerful thing. When you face it, you learn to eat a pinecone if it means staying alive to see another day (or at least making the pangs in your belly stop for a minute).

This is a good thing, if it happens. If all the fast food crap and all it's added trash could go by the wayside, it will be a beautiful day. People need to remember where food comes from - we have, as a people, lost our connection with the earth and its phases.

I think the fast-food, cheap-food joints will hang on the longest, however. People don't even know how to cook, or grow anything. The best thing to do now is keep adding to your garden, and when a friend is hungry, feed them and then teach them how to feed themselves.

2/09/2009 6:34 PM  
Anonymous freeacre said...

I have to admit that I totally don't understand people like that. I mean, we are surrounded by cookbooks, magazines, the Food Channel, for Christsake! They can READ, can't they? I was too poor to not cook when I was raising 3 teenagers and a baby. I worked a full time job, and so did my mother. But, we damn well cooked.
The ones I have met like that (and there is one who married into my family, unfortunately) are militantly against cooking. They'll go to a 7/11 to buy a 30 oz. Dr. Pepper for breakfast. Bring a Jello no-bake "cheesecake" for Thanksgiving. But, they'll buy their kids NFL Dallas Cowboys jackets and gear and all sorts of expensive crap, and feed them from a bag...and not even wonder why their kids have chronic ear infections and attention deficit disorder. It makes me sick just to look at them. My dog wouldn't eat the crap that they do.
Well, these guys are going to adapt or be part of the vanguard of the die-off.

2/11/2009 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hunting and eating wild plants will become much more difficult really quickly in the scenario you describe. Poaching will decimate animals and scare off ones we see all the time now.
Wild, tasty plants will likely be harder to find, also.

Get ready to defend your garden....

2/16/2009 6:24 PM  

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