The following is a reflection on Joel Salatin’s book: Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide to Farm Friendly Food. In the book, Salatin advocates for farm centered shopping. Late in the book he discusses Entertainment Food. His view and knowledge should give us pause as we consider the nutritional values of our food and our connectedness with the food chain.
Joel Salatin will speak at Wilmington College on April 23 at 7:30PM in the Boyd Cultural Arts Center. Salatin is an expert on sustainable food and takes a very interesting stance on how our relationship with food should be shaped. In preparing for his presentation at Wilmington College, we recommend reading Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide to Farm Friendly Food. It is a fascinating book, filled with action steps and a number of interesting and unique perspectives— but none more fascinating than his simple point, “Coca-Cola. Hershey's. Taco Bell. McDonald's... They are in the recreation and entertainment business." This should give us pause Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Taco Bell and McDonalds— they all seem to sell food. But, from Salatin’s perspective what they are selling isn’t food at all. Throughout his book, he outlines the concerns of mass production and the dangerous path we travel as we continue to remove the farmer from the food consumer. Further, Salatin argues that today, many farmers don’t grow food, they produce a product.
To reflect on the concept that Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Taco Bell and McDonalds are actually in the entertainment industry is harrowing. Is one to believe that millions of people per day are not purchasing food, but simply entertainment? Like a movie? It is a question everyone must answer on their own. McDonald’s offerings contain meat, but according to Salatin it is low-quality meat, which comes from large-scale processing and does not contain the nutritional value that a farm-fresh cut of meat would. Salatin suggests that perhaps our desire for low-cost food is dangerous to our health. While other costs, like housing and transportation, have risen, the cost of food has decreased but so has its nutritional quality.
Lower nutritional quality is dangerous to our health and can contribute to a number of health concerns including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. Salatin takes his point further by stating that even grocery stores are culprits. His argument is that farm-fresh eggs are healthier than their grocery store counterparts. Why? Farm eggs are fresh. They come directly from a farm, and are often the eggs that farmers would eat. Salatin shares a story in his book about a woman who pulled up drinking a soda, stating that she would never pay $2 for one dozen eggs at his farm stand. He knew his eggs were double the price of the grocery store and that his eggs were healthier than her soda, but he couldn’t say anything because that would have been poor customer service. Salatin’s point about entertainment food is poignant. It is more fun to choose a quick, cheap alternative rather than a healthy, life-sustaining option.
Entertainment food is not often considered. Healthy food is food a person can trace back to the source, can be recognized and that can be connected to emotionally. Healthy food is not just about nutrition, but it is also about realizing the consumer’s part in the food chain. There is a place for entertainment food but as consumers it is important to realize that many companies spend billions of dollars on advertising. So next time you purchase something to eat it is important to consider whether your purchase a life sustaining purchase or entertainment?