Questioning Beliefs on the Food Intensive Trip
I didn’t expect to gain clarity from the food intensive trip, or even any sort of concrete convictions about our national food system and the ways that we view food. A week before the trip whilst reading Omnivore’s Dilemma, I pondered the question of “America’s national eating disorder”. This concept was one that I initially scoffed at. I knew that our food system was far from flawless but I hardly saw it as an eating disorder. If anything, I blamed it purely on subsidized commodities and thus on our increasingly less reliable government. Perhaps the government is too big for its own good, I found myself thinking. And yet the food intensive clearly revealed to me that the way our nation eats truly is an eating disorder. Everywhere we went we were given wildly different opinions on the way that food should be grown, raised, prepared, and sold. It was easy to latch on to what each person was saying— they all spoke with the same sort of conviction and the same matter-of fact fieriness about their beliefs.
At Woolman we often hear the phrase “Live what you believe.” I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that the GM seed lab man was living what he believed just as much as James from the Regenerative Design Institute or the friendly people at Swanton Berry Farm and Full Belly. During our visit to the feedlot, every bone in my body screamed out to me that what I was seeing was cruel and unusual. I was shocked to realize that the way our tour guide explained the system soon had me wondering whether the cows even noticed. I came back to Woolman on Friday evening and went almost instantly to the cow pasture. I lay next to Sally Jane and rested my head against Mary, who was lying down in the field as the last rays of sunlight cast a glow over the world. In that moment came a valuable but confusing realization: it isn’t enough to live what you believe. To truly be dreamers, activists, advocates, and peacemakers—to create a just and sustainable and peaceful world— we must learn to question our assumptions and challenge what we are told when it becomes clear that the truth, or however close to truth we can come, is not immediately evident.