We Are What We Eat: Revisiting My First Post

I am not terribly sentimental, but I do like to revisit now and then. So when Jaya announced her repost event, asking participants to dig up one or more of their first 10 food-related posts, I was happy for the chance to look back.

I chose a non-recipe post because, well, I am not a big recipe revisitor, if you know what I mean, and also because I like chatting with you about the importance of eating right. So I chose the very first post I put up on Holy Cow!, for two reasons: I still believe in it more than ever, two years since I wrote it, and because no one likely read it in the first place. After all, who ever reads the first post on a new blog other than friends and family?

It was called “We are what we eat.”

That post was meant to get my readers thinking about what lay behind the food they ate as we explored recipes together. Here’s what I wrote:

Food is political.

Most of us know this to some degree. What we put in our mouths has consequences that range from animal cruelty to environmental degradation to simply depriving someone else somewhere on Planet Earth by taking more than what we need.

And then there is the question of where your food comes from, and who brings it to you. And do you really want to enrich them?

I could not say it better today. Despite all the awareness around us and documentaries like Food, Inc., Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation, most of us still believe in food as just a simple source of pleasure and sustenance. We don’t like people telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat, including our parents, spouses, friends and even doctors, and certainly not a food blogger.

But how far do we control our food, really? Scrape the skin of your chicken– or eggplant– and you’ll find a vast, powerful network of business and political interests working relentlessly to make sure you eat what they want you to eat. Agricultural subsidies that make certain foods (not necessarily the healthy ones) cheaper and more attractive to the bargain shopper, factory-farming practices that create disgustingly cruel conditions for sentient animals to get cheap meat to your dinner table, genetically modified foods that can cause complex diseases. Even our taste buds have been rendered senseless by too-sweet, too-salty packaged foods and fast foods and I won’t even begin on what senseless eating has done to our health.

Your food also has costs beyond what you pay out of your wallet. Most of us are always on the lookout for bargains in the grocery aisles because, let’s face it, we have limited budgets within which we’d like to feed our families well. But really cheap food usually has hidden costs– for others. Take Walmart, for instance, which raised its advertising blitz on its cheap food prices in the recessive economy and saw its sales bounce upward. The retailer, not one to lower its bottomline, is notorious for human rights violations against employees, including underpaying them, not giving a large number of employees health insurance, causing them to depend on government health schemes, and arm-twisting farmers to sell their foods at extremely low prices to Walmart. And then, of course, they pass some of those savings on to you. Do you really want that?

I don’t want to go on and on, and hopefully I’ve got you thinking enough that you will want to educate yourselves more about this. So I’ll just end by saying this: most of you are already great cooks. But be a conscious one as well. Food can only taste better when you know exactly what’s in it and behind it.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Nice post Vaishali…in fact I too don’t remember reading your very first post…it was a good and interesting read overall…thanks for sharing it with us :)

  2. says

    I agree with you Vaishali. Budget prompts a lot of food choices but sometimes just taking a pause and reevaluating a choice can make all the difference. Why buy canned beans when dried beans are cheaper and much nutritious? Or eat genetically modified meat when Tofu and lentils can substitute for protein just as well and better. But in this culture of instant gratification who has the time to pause? Thanks to blogs like yours we get to pause and consider healthier choices.

  3. says

    A very good post to revisit! I know a Walmart employee, who was laid off because of an on-the-job injury, and received no medical benefits. Makes you think twice about where you buy stuff and who you’d like to support.

  4. Anonymous says

    Dear Vaishali

    My Mom used to tell us the same that you have told all of us through your blog. I hope more and more people read your blog and cultivate good habits along with enjoying the delicious food.
    Take care

  5. says

    Nice post Vaishali…and a big thanks for all the Malaysian recipes, more Malaysians could certainly do the same! Have included your blog in my links list, keep up the good work!

  6. says

    Nice post Vaishali…and a big thanks for all the Malaysian recipes, more Malaysians could certainly do the same! Have included your blog in my links list, keep up the good work!

  7. says

    Gita, NotYet100, Zengirl, Jaya, Karma, Anonymous, Shahana: Thanks for your kind words! You keep me going.

    Sharmila, Welcome and thanks. I was over at your blog now and your post about Malaysian foods was really delicious, but I couldn’t post a comment because the comments function seems to be disabled– do check it.

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