Last night I finished Ruth Ozeki’s novel All Over Creation. Like the best novels it contains a myriad of stories within a story. It focuses on the lives of two Idaho potato farming families and illuminates many environmental issues, namely genetic splicing.
"All Over Creation" did more than entertain, it educated me. Thank you, Ms. Ozeki.
Now I admit since vowing to stay away from the news and most TV for the past four years, I have lived in a bubble. I have only recently begun to listen to NPR again. And because of this I had no idea something like genetically altering our foods was on the horizon, never mind already here. I had no idea that fish genes were being spliced into our tomatoes. I had no idea that certain vaccines and bacteria toxins were being injected into our potatoes. This last article would have us believe that it is for the benefit of mankind. But look where the article is posted: Forbes.com. If these people truly wanted to help save mankind, then surely they would promote sending our gross surplus of foods overseas rather than throwing them away. Surely our excess of corn, grain, potatoes, is being earmarked for the tsumani-ravaged Southeast Asia as we speak, right?
I doubt it.
Of course, there is resistance to man playing God from the religious community. But let’s face it: man has been playing God for years now. My concerns are of a practical nature. I simply want the food I give my children to nurture them, as it was intended to do, and not poison them, not vaccinate them, not make them ill, and not adversely affect their children’s children down the line. Am I asking too much? It appears I am.
Here’s another take on the whole genetic splicing issue: Harzards and another: Caution and another: As You Sow.
I’ve known antibiotics have been added to cows’ feed for years now. Sometimes I buy organic, sometimes I don’t. I’ve also known that animal parts have been added to the feed of other animals, even those animals that were never intended to eat meat. I’ve stopped eating most meat. But I have not been doing enough to protect my family. It is time to take this seriously.
When I was pregnant with Xander I made sure I ate all the right things. I stayed clear of those fish that were known to contain unacceptable levels of mercury. So I ate salmon. Tons of it. I had read salmon was an excellent food for the development of the baby’s brain. Now I learn of this: Is Farm-Raised Salmon Bad for Your Health After All? Note the date of the article—November 2003. I gave birth to my son in November 2001.
I am pissed. We have been fucking with our food for too long.
It may be too late for me, but I have a responsibility to make sure the food I give my children is as benign as it can be. There is an organic store an hour and fifteen minutes away. I will make that drive as often as I can. What choice do I have?
Here’s an excerpt from “All Over Creation:”
“Now picture the whole planet as a garden, teeming with millions upon millions of flowers and trees and fruits and vegetables and insects and birds and animals and weevils and us. And then, instead of all that magnificent, chaotic profusion, picture a few thousand genetically mutated, impoverished, barren, patented forms of corporately controlled germplasm.”
- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.