On Friday, I shared this article on the RRG Facebook page. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to click the link and read through, it’s a NY Times piece about the things that have been found in conventionally farmed chicken — low levels of arsenic, Benadryl, Tylenol, caffeine, and even Prozac. (Allow me to eloquently sum up my thoughts on this development: Yikes.)
As readers began commenting on the post, sharing their own dismay at the news, I joked that the kind of denial/lamentation/avoidance/rage cycle we were all experiencing was something like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s infamous five stages of grief. Foodie grief is a unique experience; it’s the kind of thing that makes ordinary people into reusable bag-toting, CSA-joining, vegan-dabbling eaters on a mission. In other words, it makes regular old folks into Nosy Meddling Crunchy Hippie Intellectual types. Activists. And if you don’t think that’s happened to you yet, or that it will ever happen to you, I defy you to look through the Five Stages of Foodie Grief and NOT find yourself somewhere along the path.
Stage One: Denial.
Defining quote: “But I’m sure the stuff I eat is safe. Right?”
Defining behavior: Buys only the organic cheese puffs at the store. Replaces soda with some kind of “health-promoting” drink with a vaguely Asian-looking design on the can and plenty of ginkgo, ginseng, or acai. Or all three.
Stage Two: Anger.
Defining quote: “How could people possibly do this to our food? Somebody (not me) should raise some heck!”
Defining behavior: Subscribes to any and all notable food policy blogs, memorizes Michael Pollan’s complete works, makes every friend watch “Food Inc.” on Netflix.
Stage Three: Bargaining.
Defining quote: “I bought the grass-fed beef, so I don’t have to worry about the pastured eggs, too…right? Baby steps. Right? RIGHT?”
Defining behavior: Stands in front of the dairy case for inordinate lengths of time, unable to decide between the organic half and half and the local half and half. Buys the sale-price lunchmeat with the nitrates and brings it back to the store an hour later. Cyberstalks the local grass-fed meat guy, but never signs up for his CSA.
Stage Four: Depression.
Defining quote: “Ugh. Pirate’s Booty is really just a hippie faux-Cheeto.”
Defining behavior: Bequeaths all remaining “natural” granola bars, organic frozen chicken nuggets, and bunny-shaped organic macaroni and cheese dinner kits to less-savvy friends. Spends hours in the kitchen at night or on weekends cubing fruits, vegetables, and pastured cheeses for on-the-go snacks. Mopes over the environmental toll all those individual snack baggies are taking.
Stage Five: Acceptance.
Defining quote: “You have GOT to try that waste-free lunch kit. I haven’t bought a baggie in six months. Plus, they’re BPA and phthalate-free, AND they’re airtight. I don’t know how we ever got along without them. Seaweed snack?”
Defining behavior: Fills Amazon wishlist with exotic healthy cooking oils, freeze-dried fruit, and various eco-friendly food storage items. Writes letters to kids’ schools advocating school gardens, cupcake-free birthdays, and locally farmed produce in the lunchroom. Is never caught without a grain-free, nutrient-dense snack and/or reusable grocery tote on his/her person.
See what I mean?
Of course, the most important part of moving through the stages of Foodie Grief is that you end up in a place where you’re not just TALKING about change, but actually trying to find ways to make it happen. And I’m about to offer you a TOTALLY painless way to make a little bit of change in the food system…while SHOPPING. How much better does it get, really?
As most readers know by now, I’m part of the Real Food Advocates Team raising money for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation’s education efforts across the country. At the moment, you can (of course) make a regular donation to the cause if you’d like, but there’s an even better way to make your dollars count — by buying items from the Pampered Chef.
From now through May, there is a special Real Food Advocates party going on through the Pampered Chef. A portion of all the proceeds from sales made using this link will go to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation; all you have to do is follow the link, click “shop online” in the lower left corner, and select “Jamie Oliver Foundation” under Option 1. Then you’ll be able to shop as you please, knowing that the dollars you’re spending are not only buying you AMAZING kitchen goodies, but also helping the Real Food Advocates team come closer to our goal.
Online shopping in the name of the greater good? Now that’s a little piece of the food activist action we can all enjoy, no matter which stage of Foodie Grief we may be in at the moment.