We are traveling by car across the US yet again, and once a day we stop for lunch to stretch our legs and get some grub. The options are few out here on the highways of our great land for those of us who wish to eat sustainably-raised food, or care about where our food comes from as well as how it is raised and even slaughtered.
Oh yes, be sure, I always pack a cooler and a sack of REAL FOOD, snacks and stuff for breakfast and dinner when we stop to camp and I can cook. I even bring homemade soup we can sip cold. But the car ride gets old after a few hundred miles and we need to stop and stretch. So when we do, we always try to find a local diner or restaurant, a “mom and pop” stop among the plethora of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Hardee’s. Sometimes we find one, sometimes we don’t.
Today we thought we found one, “The Friendly Grille” just inside the IL border. Too bad road construction blocked the road it was on and kept us from finding it.
So it was back onto the interstate, and we traveled on down the road another 15-20 miles or so, as far as we could go before we needed to fill up the tank again. This time, a Country Kitchen. My honey was happy to see one; it had been a while. I have never seen one, so off we went. And then it was obvious: another chain restaurant. A small chain, but a chain again. Oy.
This prompted an interesting conversation about where food comes from. Another “aha” moment. I have not really seen the breadth of this prior to now. There seem to be three groups: 1. McDonald’s and Wendy’s and the big chains, 2. the small chains and 3. the Moms and Pops. To my knowledge, the big chains AND the small chains get their food from central suppliers, for the most part. I am guessing that MickeyD’s et al have their own main suppliers, and the small chain restaurants also get their food from suppliers such as Sysco, etc. These may vary by area, but there are still companies whose main business is to get groceries/staples to restaurants. So both the large chains and the small chains are purchasing the same brands, the same foods, full of salt and preservatives and lots of long ingredient labels. Yuck. Not sure about where the mom and pop restaurants get their food stuffs; probably depends upon their size and location. They, too, may use the same food distributors…so it’s all the same dead food, (enzymatically dead) the same processed food to varying degrees, the same pasteurized food, the same GMO-laden food, conventional food, pesticide-laden food…out here on the road. Ugh.
Another observation: once we were in this “small chain restaurant”, there were no good choices. Here’s what’s on the menu: a burger or steak from a cow raised on a feedlot, eating food it is not meant to eat while standing in its own fecal matter, and slaughtered assembly line fashion, pulled pork bbq from a pig raised in a cage, chicken from hens raised in cages with what Joel Salatin has pointed out “fecal particulate” in their lungs, salmon-no doubt farm-raised and fed GMO feed at the least. Hmmm. Hard to be a sustainably-eating carnivore out on the road. Very difficult choices. What one does when faced with these bad options is, of course, a personal decision. It may come down to just how hungry you are. And as I always say, a blessing does a lot to make whatever you eat more palatable…as well as a request for forgiveness for what I call the Food Industrial Complex and some actions to help remedy the situation. Join the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund…join a CSA…volunteer on a farm…purchase your food at a farmer’s market, vote with your pocketbook…and when you are on the road, bring your own food with you. Try to research sustainable food options on your route beforehand! And if the only options you have are gas station convenience stores every 60 or 70 miles out here on the road, well, just do your best.