A Good Night & Year

I’m not sure why, but tonight is the night I’m turning things around. I considered 2009 a bit of a disastrous year. I felt like I was losing myself. Everything I had prided myself on was slipping. But for the past few days, I feel like I’ve been emerging, and tonight might be the night to jump start myself.

I’m not really one of those people that thinks the new year marks anything very important. But my rejuvenation seems to be aligning quite nicely with the end of the old and start of the new. And I’m hopeful that 2010 will be a good year. And it feels good to be hopeful again. Perhaps my stars are aligning. Quick Google search, my horoscope for the day:

Set your craziest, wildest ideas free to roam — they are sure to find fertile fields! Speak up early and don’t be shy if people start to look at you funny, as that is all part of the plan. – From Astrology.com

I only partly buy into it. Ha. But a lot of people do believe that the new year is an important day. A once-upon-a-time good friend told me that how you spend new years eve reflects how the rest of your year will be. Last year, I had a really nice night at home watching Groundhog Day by myself eating popcorn and drinking champagne. I enjoyed it, but perhaps this is what put me into a funk for the rest of the year: preferring to spend my time with fictional TV characters rather than real people; staying comfortable rather than trying new things. But not this new years eve. I’ll be social if not a little afraid of going to the bar without some reliable friend-anchor, but I know I’ll manage and it’ll be a good time.

But more on my good night tonight. Patting myself on the back for:

  • Starting this blog
  • Posting on womenonscreen.com and the Gray Suite
  • Posting on craigslist to get rid of some of my stuff including photos
  • Downloading some excellent music
  • Writing a couple of book reviews at GoodReads (find me!)
  • Brainstorming a crazy feminist art project

Still needs to be completed tonight:

  • Make lunch
  • Sketch ideas for SmashingMag’s January calendar
  • Gather school photos for work
  • Read

To be completed tomorrow:

  • Smashing mag calendar (all 10 variations)
  • Create Facebook portrait group
  • Sign-up on Etsy

My work is never done. And I like that.

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A Good Night & Year

Abuse in the Food Industry: This Time the Words Suffer

Currently, I’m reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffran Foer. I strongly recommend everyone read this book, unless you’re an omnivore who wants to keep eating meat. In that case, I’d strongly warn you not to read this book.

But this post isn’t about what you choose to eat. It’s about how food manufacturers misuse words to confuse you about what you eat. Saffran Foer has confirmed my worst suspicions: words such as “free-range,” “fresh,” “kosher” and “organic” mean very little in terms of health or animal compassion and are instead food industry buzz words to make consumers believe that they do in fact mean healthy or compassionate.

As a quick reference, here are the abbreviated versions of Saffran Foer’s definitions:

FREE-RANGE: The USDA doesn’t even have a definition of free-range for laying hens [the ones that provide eggs.] …I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range (61).

FRESH: “Fresh” poultry has never had an internal temperature below 26 degrees or above 40 degrees F. …There is no time component to fresh (61).

KOSHER: Fully conscious cattle at the (then) largest kosher slaughterhouse in the world, Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, were videotaped having their tracheas and esophagi systematically pulled from their throats… being shocked with with electric prods in their faces (69). This goes against the Jewish dietary laws that say if humans absolutely must eat animals, we should do humanely, with respect for the other creatures in the world and with humility (68).

ORGANIC: Organic foods in general are almost certainly safer and often have a smaller ecological footprint and better health value. They are not, though, necessarily more humane. …For chickens raised for meat and for turkeys, though, “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of welfare issues. You can call your turkey organic and torture it daily (70).

My primary peeve with this bastardization of language is that manufacturers do this not only to promote the image of their products but also to charge more to their consumers. This is a big point of debate for pro-factory farms: if people want organic, or free range, etc., the cost of food will increase greatly. And for a few years now, I’ve been part of that faction of America that say’s that’s OK! Cheap means cheap, and I’m willing to pay for quality.

That being said– dammit I expect quality! Regulated, enforced and punishable quality, and that is not what I / we’ve been getting. As a conscientious consumer, I feel like the food industry is throwing the wool over my eyes. For goodness sakes, Fruit Loops got a [phony] healthy cereal award.

I don’t know where to sign up, but I am officially on the food quality, 100% transparent, no matter the cost bandwagon. (Yes, I am privileged to not worry about my food bills–but revolutionizing our food system would in fact revolutionize it for the poorest of consumers in both terms of money and health, but I’ll save that for a different post.)

Anyone else fed up or concerned about the mislabeling of our foods? What else could be getting mislabeled or produced unregulated? Food is not what it used to be.

Abuse in the Food Industry: This Time the Words Suffer