My toddler son loves raisins. They’re in the local, organic, gluten-free granola he eats every morning. He often picks out every one with his index finger and thumb, savoring (inhaling) them with a huge smile on his face before begrudgingly eating the reminder of his oats once he’s exhausted the daily raisin supply. I keep a jar of organic California raisins, from the bulk section of our local grocer, in the cupboard for when “begrudgingly” turns into a tantrum. Raisins are a big deal in my house. And I thought they were such a simple, naturally sweet treat for my son. Little did I know the true value of each tasty raisin he was popping into his mouth each morning.
During week one, we were introduced to the processing, energy, and resources that go into the production and marketing of the raisin. Once simply a dried grape, in my eyes, I quickly realized the impact that even such a seemingly straight forward food could have. Now six weeks in, more informed and enlightened into the industrialization of food, I see the true significance of raisins (or at least, can understand it a bit better). The cost in human labor, environmental impact, water, chemical fertilization, transportation, domestic and international shipping, petroleum use, machinery, etc. go far beyond the romantic images of vines of grapes simply laid out to dry in the warm California sun.
Of course, I will still feed my son his granola with raisins every morning — that ship has long sailed — however, the knowledge imparted on me since week one has already had personal impact on my life with regard to what and how I think about the food my family is consuming.