Jerod Ferguson Professor Slade English 219 A Hefty Price for Convenience in David Suzuki’s “Food Connections” In “Food Connections” David Suzuki’s view of urban supermarkets is that in the process of delivering fruits, vegetables, and meat from producer to consumer through mass production, although creating great convenience Suzuki sees a major dysfunction, a disconnection between the consumer and the land. Suzuki compares the relationship between consumers in poor countries that have traditional markets creating a close connection to the land, with that of consumers in richer countries that have supermarkets which cause numerous negative effects to the environment. In developed countries from around the world, where supermarkets and technology such as refrigerated trucks are abundant, consumers have the ability to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from nearly any region across the globe, year round. This luxury of convenience is seen as a standard in today’s supermarkets, where the consumers do not know (or care for that matter), where the fruit or vegetables they desire originates: “We have become so used to clean food presented in plastic packages that we no longer think about where it comes from” (308). Instead consumers expect that the option to purchase what they want is available. Suzuki feels that the way food is presented in supermarkets is creating a major disconnection between consumers and their environment when raw and organic necessities of nutrition are placed next to seemingly endless shelves of inorganic, popular commodities such as, BBQ’s, baby clothes, and T.V’s. This
all too common shopping underneath one roof creates an illusion that dismisses the role nature plays in the production of food. Suzuki compares supermarkets to traditional markets from around the world, and states that in the traditional setting the buyers are more closely connected with their surrounding land and seasonal change: “There is an immediate bond between people and the productive Earth” (308). In poorer countries, where refrigeration is a rarity, consumers are forced to rely on daily market shopping. This leaves the consumer with whatever option of food is available in the given season, and also leaves the consumer exposed to variability in food quality due to the weather patterns of that particular season. This form of agriculture keeps the consumer in check with their surrounding environment, and allows a natural, visible and obvious connection between people and their land. Suzuki also states the high quality that naturally grown food possesses: “. . . the sharp aroma and flavour of these fruits and vegetables are often a delightful shock for those from cities in rich countries” (307). Being able to experience natural qualities of food through taste, touch, and smell is a powerful aspect of daily life that connects people to their hunter-gatherer ancestry, where the land, air, water, and sun was respected or even worshipped, a view environmentalists such as Suzuki share on at least some level. Suzuki emphasises that in the past and before the sprawling superstores of today people had a stronger connection between food that was on the dinner table on any given night, and the origins of where the food actually comes from. Suzuki greatly values this relationship to land, thinking back to when he was a child: “When I was a boy, the first fresh fruit or vegetables of the year . . . were a delight, a signal to celebrate . . .” (308). Suzuki sees this connection as the life force between nature and the survival of mankind: “Food is what nourishes us, connects us with the Earth, and reminds us of the cycles of the seasons” (307).
This relationship to land can only continue if humans everywhere appreciate what our land is constantly giving, and in the process of mass production of fruits and vegetables, comes detrimental effects to the planet. Our desire to only buy picture perfect products has now created an industry of food production where fruits, vegetables and meat are “treated with pesticides, herbicides, hormones, preservatives, and antibiotics . . .” (308). Suzuki views this as very unnatural. He reminisces, “When I was a child, my mother would sit with a basket of apples and nick out the scabs and worms. . . We thought nothing of sharing those apples with other organisms. Today we aren’t nearly as tolerant, and demand bug-free products even if it means poisoning our air, water, and soil to get it” (308-309). This expectation of perfection has led to every aspect of food production now being controlled by humans. This is a major concern to environmentalists like Suzuki; he feels that the effects of synthesizing nature are detrimental to our environment, and that “We are paying a terrible price for our separation from the natural world.” (309). Here Suzuki implies that the consequence of consumers removing themselves from nature has caused a decrease of respect for nature, and an increased and ongoing degradation of the environment such as erosion, clear-cutting, car pollution, and overconsumption to name only a few. Overall, Suzuki believes that people that live in more developed countries around the world have lost touch with nature, and do not consciously make a connection with the food they buy in supermarkets and where that food actually came from. People do not consider how far their food had to travel to get to them, or what human control was used to produce it. In more developed countries, the thought of acquiring daily food that was locally grown is now a part of our past time. New and even recent generations of children may have only seen a glimpse of what used to be the norm of buying fresh fruits and vegetables from a market place when the
farmers market passes through town. Now seen as a commodity, a farmers market may even include such portable trailers as mini-donuts, hardly a connection at all with the origins of fresh food. Suzuki stresses the importance of peopleâ€™s dependence on nature, which is essentially what sustains human life on earth, and that all individual actions and cultural practices of producing food reflect our society on the whole. This is why food marketing is of importance to environmentalists like Suzuki, namely because of the major loss of connection between people and the environment that supports them.
Suzuki, David. “Food Connections” Essay Writing for Canadian Students With Readings. 7th Ed. Roger Davis et al. Toronto: Pearson, 2013. 307-309. Print