You Are What You Eat (and what it means for the world post-corona) Pt.1

Publish September 30, 2020

Thanks to everyone who read, shared and replied to my last post. It has been inspiring for me to hear from you and it confirms to me that we’re on the right track of a difficult path. And it’s made me want to write and share more.

I’d be late to the game if I started to talk about toilet paper and empty supermarket shelves. But it was a long time ago when I started thinking about the crazy logistics involved in keeping our supermarkets stocked with products from around the world. Take chocolate for example. When I started making chocolate in 2010 Indonesia was the third largest grower of cacao in the world and didn’t make any premium chocolate. The bulk of cacao was exported to European countries to be turned into ‘European’ chocolate.

As a wine lover it would be crazy to think of taking Australian grapes to France and calling it French wine. But the truth is cacao can’t grow in Europe and all of the beans come from Africa, Asia or South America. This is a topic for another story — but the fact is that cacao beans spend weeks being collected by brokers, weeks at port, weeks at sea and often weeks in European warehouses before being turned into chocolate. And then it gets shipped to you. The point is that this supply chain is global, extensive and relies on lots of moving parts. It enables the global, year round distribution of what is in effect a seasonal tropical food grown across the equator.

When you go to your supermarket and you see out-of-season fruits, European cheeses, California almonds you’re looking at a profit driven system that is needlessly and recklessly putting revenue and profit before carbon emissions, air pollution, water usage and food security. And in my opinion it’s desensitising us to nature and the seasons. As a kid I used to get excited when peaches came in season and I got apricots in my lunch box instead of apples. When seasonal product is flown across the world not only is it damaging to the environment but it takes away from our gratitude and appreciation for our connection to the earth.

When we don’t live with nature we’re living against it. Nature has a flow, a pattern and we have a history of fighting it when we should be living with and guided by it. Since the electric lightbulb turned night into day our misguided dominance of nature has turned into our destruction of the planet. We’ve turned forests into plantations and stripped the oceans bare to feed the developed world’s appetite and even then 3 million children die every year due to hunger and malnutrition. And when we stopped being scared of lions and tigers, our perceived dominance of nature became absolute, as shown by the complacency of world leaders in tackling climate change. This is not a normal I want to go back to. And it was only a matter of time before nature fought back with something smaller that we can’t fight with guns, empty rhetoric or diplomacy.

But there is good news — there is great news and I promise every time I write I will give you the good news! There is only one enemy and it is fear. And the only way to fight it is to let go of it. Recognise it, allow it and let it pass. It will go away. We need to let go of fear and allow this sense of connection, with each other and with the planet, to spread. And as it spreads we shall usher in a new, better world more connected with nature and in balance.

So what can we do? Start by supporting local farmers. Figure our what grows when and start to eat in season. Start a herb garden or urban garden and get your hands dirty. Google the seasonal dishes your grandma used to make and make them now together with your family and friends. And in the meantime, support local businesses, because local businesses will be the heroes who get our economies back on their feet. And don’t be hard on yourself now because the world is in a state of flux and it’s ok to do what you can now to get by. But learn from it. Cherish what you have, who you’re with. Cherish nature, cherish what you eat as you value where it comes from; our earth. Wherever you are and wherever I am, it’s our planet together. The reset button’s being pressed but we still get to choose to emerge from this a cleaner, greener and healthier planet. And that means a happier and fairer planet too. Let’s do this together!

Hey, you read this all the way to the end! I feel like writing more short reads, even taking this content to video on YouTube. If you’d like to see this or have any suggestions let me know!

“A small band of Southeast Asia-based chocolate makers is turning the $100 billion chocolate industry on its head – by producing world class chocolate bars from locally grown cocoa beans.”

“Sweet Success… Toby’s vision is to produce high quality chocolate where it’s grown… and has made Pod into the creator of some of Indonesia’s best chocolate.”

“Local & Awesome… Pod has grown from one small machine to a world class factory where modern European machines meet highly trained chocolatiers to create amazing chocolate.”


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