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My work can be found in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, New Delta Review, and Gargoyle #57, among others. 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. Currently, I'm an Associate editor for Narrative Magazine. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Illuminate and Ruminate

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.”



Jai said...

Did you really not know? but what about reading newspapers? it's hot topic over here.

Looks an interesting book. thanks Kat

Tom Saunders said...

My wife Jean has been campaigning against genetically modified crops and foods in the UK for many years now. She's had quite a bit of success, but when you're fighting big business you can never be complacent. I've helped her secretly inspect and take pictures of government trials of genetically modified fodder maize.

katrina said...

Yes! I really have had my head in the sand and I feel terrible about it. But it's not too late. And I will do my best to spread the word here and prevent as much of that crap from entering my house as possible.

Jean is an amazing woman.

Tom Saunders said...

Awareness of the problem is generally pretty low in America, so there's nothing to beat yourself up about. Genetic modification of cereal crops has been going on with you for quite some time now. Most farmers had no quarrel with it at first, but I think that might be changing now.

In Europe foodstuffs containing genetically modified materials have to be labelled as such. American manufacturers have tried very hard to get this law changed because they see it as anti-trade.

katrina said...

When I go into my local grocery store, which is upscale to begin with, I buy what I think is good produce. It's laid out like it would be at a farmer's market. The problem with this is that I don't know where the produce comes from or anything about it.
In the even more expensive food market an hour away, it sells a lot of organic produce. I've been told the potatoes are labeled in sections: Organic; Common; Genetically altered. I'll see when I go today.
My husband Tom knew about it and knew the UK and Europe had more strict policies then we do here. And as I said I'm more in the dark than the usual person, but I don't believe the people here really understand the problem or are even aware of it. I could be wrong. In any case, like most of the things they do under the guise of being helpful to people, (I'm thinking of adding soybean oil to everything now) it's highly dangerous and the ramfications are numerous. And the bottom line is always money.

katrina said...

Imagine the world without people like Jean (and yourself). Thank goodness we have people who are willing to fight these large corporations.

Tom Saunders said...

It's very important that manufacturers should be forced to list the contents of canned and ready to eat foodstuffs on the label because many of the widely-used thickening agents etc used in America are genetically modified, soya being one of them.

The growing of genetically modified crops is a danger because the modified material escapes into the food chain with unknown consequences for habitats and wildlife. Once a genetic shift takes place in nature there's no going back. And all of this to produce more of something that's already in surplus. Crazy.

katrina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
katrina said...

A friend of mine thought her youngest child was autistic. He was spaced out for most of the day and wouldn't communicate with anyone. She is a wonderful advocate for her kids and had her child tested for food allergies. It turned out that one of his main allergies was from that soybean/soya oil added to the foods. She eliminated it completely from the family's diet and he is completely normal now! She also discovered most foods contain some form of soybean/soya now and she has to look at the labels of everything.

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