In the first contemplative practice, the first thing I thought about was how healthy this raisin was for me. As a health-conscious individual, I knew that this processed raisin had some nutritional value. And then it dawned on me: as much as we like to associate industrialized food systems with words such as “processed” and “unhealthy”, we can also associate it with “nutritious” and “efficient”. As I was consuming the raisin, I was able to make out the flavors of various ingredients. I tasted the sweetness of the natural sugars of the raisin. I tasted the smooth, tarty coating of the raisin graze against my mouth. This raisin came to be starting as a grape grown on a plantation, picked by a farmer where it was sun dried, transported to a factory where it was processed, and then shipped to a retailer where it was sold.The “nutritious” raisin that I consumed was “efficiently” produced in an industrialized system.
So how are consumers impacted in a system which commodifies basic essentials such as food into items to be traded or bought? My relationship with the raisin led me to visualize the farm which it came from and the factory where it was processed. It led me to visualize the individuals whose labor it took to produce this one raisin: the farmer, the factory worker, the truck driver, the cashier, etc.Understanding the industrialized food system also requires the first hand experience we as consumers have with this system everyday. This is seen in how foods that are deemed “processed” are interpreted by the consumer as “unhealthy”. The consumer’s relationship with the food is also a relationship with the workers who produced it. Therefore the consumer’s relationship with their commodified product is crucial to the understanding of the industrialized food system.