• Let's not fetishize the single purchase of a vegetable with the aid of natural fertilising methods. (Flickr)Source: Flickr
The farmers’ market idea of 'purity' and the promise of 'natural' and 'simple' supermarket products and 'wholesome' tonics is troubling for Helen Razer.
Helen Razer

13 Apr 2016 - 1:29 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2016 - 1:36 PM

Every Saturday, I pull on a crisp gingham frock and skip through a biodiverse meadow grass to the local farmers’ market. Just as soon as me and my joy have arrived, we hear splendid conversation between persons very keen to learn if that particular duck was humanely raised on a diet rich in omega 3.

It is then that I quietly affirm to myself the lived glory of the universe and I reach into my wicker basket - Fair Trade, naturally, and made by micro-loan feminists from Nepal - and I take out my gun.

This Kustom Kalashnikov does not shoot bullets, but it does drench everyone in trans-fats and a storm of Monsanto seeds.

“Death to the bourgeois west!” I say, as I check to see that my goat curd has not been crushed, along with the dreams of the wholefood shoppers. “With every gram of quinoa, you are consuming lies!”

I never particularly enjoy the advanced interrogation that follows my trip to the farmers’ market. But, I do always feel that the chaps of the terrorism taskforce kind of see my point. Once, I could have sworn I overheard an operative say, “Well. You can’t blame her. Those people who ask ‘is it organic?’ make me reach for my revolver as well.”

With every gram of quinoa, you are consuming lies!

Just to be gracelessly clear, as one must in this literal world: no. I have never committed an act of terrorism using conventionally grown grain, or any other weapon. I have, however, been to a farmers’ market and thought some very uncharitable things.

While I affirm many things about the farmers’ market and I shop at the farmer’s market and I do not even particularly mind that the farmers’ market is full of mothers telling each other that they simply must dash off to collect their gifted child Brynlee from archery class just as soon as they’ve finished this nutritious green smoothie, I resent the deluded obsession that the farmers’ market has come to represent.

The farmers’ market idea of “purity” is one that I find very troubling - and one I see everywhere, just a little bit more visibly and expensively at the farmers’ market.

Products on supermarket shelves make the promise of “Natural” and “Simple” and tanned chaps on late night and early morning TV promise “age-old” cures for disease in the form of a “wholesome” tonic.

Those people who ask ‘is it organic?’ make me reach for my revolver.

While I understand that our frustrations with society might tempt us to anti-civilisation fantasy, or to fetishize the single purchase of an apple produced with the aid of natural fertilising methods, I don’t get this idea of the human mouth as some sort of entry to a temple.

Of course, it makes sense to eat wholefoods and it makes sense to support the small-scale agricultural production of these. It makes sense to give little Brynlee the best start in life. How else will she ever compete at her non-competitive Montessori school without benefit of a healthy diet?

But. This idea that so many of us have about “pure” and the “impure” nourishment is not only malarkey founded by the worst kind of Christian doctrine. It does not, a great deal of the time, have any basis in scientific reason.

Kale is no better for you than its tastier cousin, the cabbage. GMO is not always the work of the capitalist devil. “Organic” farming practice is not necessarily sustainable and ethical farming practice. Raw milk is outlawed for reasons that have nothing to do with Big Pasteurisation and everything to do with the fact that it might kill you if you’re not on very good terms with the udder that produced it.

I don’t get this idea of the human mouth as some sort of entry to a temple.

And, no, this doesn’t mean that I believe we all have license to cram our mouths with pie. This is no endorsement of the agro-industrial complex nor is it to suggest that contemporary production and consumption patterns are anything close to ideal.

But, it is to say that a meaningful response to a very real problem of diminishing nutrition standards is not to become some sort of half-baked snob who attributes magical properties to an artisanal loaf of sprouted whatever-it-is.

To quote Michael Pollan, perhaps the most readable and informed journalist who has ever written on nutrition: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And, I would add, “eat more food so that you’re so busy chewing, I don’t have to listen to you bang on about how your body is free from impurities, you bore.”


Love the story? Follow the author here: Twitter @HelenRazer.

Image by Dogeared (Flickr).


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