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Aaron Gross: How To Change the Story Around How and What We Eat

Species Unite 14 May 2020 163

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We all have a food story; the story that we tell ourselves about what we eat and why we eat it. It’s that story that runs the show when it comes to how we shop, cook, and feed our children.

It was most often taught to us by our parents and their parents, most who thought they were passing on good values and deep traditions and were only doing what was best for their kids. But our food story is more than that. It was also passed on to our parents and to us from advertisers, marketers and a food industry that uses words like values and traditions to get us to buy into a narrative that has damaged our health, destroyed the planet, and caused endless suffering to billions of animals.

But once we come to terms with the fact that it’s just a story and not something that we can’t change, there’s a whole new world waiting. And, like in so many other industries that are inherently broken in America and around the globe, the pandemic has exposed the gaping holes in our food system. But it’s also given us the opportunity to take a deeper look into what and how we eat and decide that we can change the story.

Aaron Gross is a professor of theology and religious studies at the University of San Diego, and he’s the CEO and founder of Farm Forward. Farm forward was founded as the nation’s first nonprofit devoted exclusively to ending factory farming.

Recently, Aaron and the writer, Jonathan Safran Foer published a piece in the Guardian called, We Have to Wake Up: Factory Farms are Breeding Grounds for Pandemics.

There’s a paragraph in the article that says, ” The link between factory farming and increasing pandemic risk is well established scientifically, but the political will to curtail that risk has, in the past, been absent. Now is the time to build that will. It really does matter if we talk about this, share our concerns with our friends, explain these issues to our children, wonder together about how we should eat differently, call on our political leaders, and support advocacy organizations fighting factory farming. Leaders are listening. Changing the most powerful industrial complex in the world – the factory farm – could not possibly be easy, but in this moment with these stakes it is, maybe for the first time in our lifetimes, possible.”

Aaron graciously joined me from his quarantine in San Diego to talk about how we change the story around how and what we eat and ultimately, how we change our food system. Aaron is one of the smartest guys out there and it was beyond a privilege to hear his thoughts and ideas on how we forge ahead. This conversation was enlightening, inspiring, and incredibly informative. I hope that you learn as much as I did.

We can change our food industry. As bad as most things across the planet are right now, there’s real opportunity in front of us. Let’s not waste it.

Species Unite is a podcast focused on those who fight the good fight on behalf of animals around the globe. It's a collection of the stories of the people who are healing the world one creature at a time.

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