Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It Is a Dilemma

I recently started going back to the library, so I've been reading books I've been interested in for a couple of years, but never wanted to actually buy. This is ironic because the first book I checked out, I do now want to own. It's the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The basic premise of the book is what are you going to have for dinner and do you know where it comes from? Pollan takes four meals and traces them through the food chain. It's really very interesting and Chris (who is also reading the book - whenever I'm not) and I have had several interesting conversations about this.

Primarily, these conversations revolve around HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). I've been on a crusade against this stuff for several years - it is in everything (go look in your pantry) and it's not very good for you. I've recruited Chris to be on the lookout for HFCS and you should see us trying to buy bread at the store, it would be rather comical if it wasn't so frustrating. Anyway, the book goes into detail about why / how there is so much corn in the modern American diet. It is really scary, not because corn is inherently bad, but because of how the corn is processed and then snuck into foods you wouldn't think it to be in (really, go look).

What makes something organic is also something the book covers. Geesh, I was off here. I had the idea that organic chickens were frolicking through fields, turns out according to Pollan, they are in a feedlot with "access" (a small door) to the outside for the last two weeks of their lives. Now, I'm not so sure organic is the gold standard it is made out to be for chickens or for anything else.

We've also talked about the American diet in general. Pollan points out that Americans are suffering from one large collective eating disorder - first all carbs, then no carbs, then high protein, then good carbs - no one knows what to eat anymore. I think this is one problem, but I think the broader problem is that low income people don't have access to good quality food. It's a whole lot cheaper for a mom to go to the store and buy chips, soda and Spaghetti O's rather than milk, fruit, veggies and high quality protein. It's sad really.

For something so important to our daily lives - food - we don't know much about where it comes from or how it is affecting our bodies or our environment. I would really recommend this book. It's been a really eye-opening book for me and has challenged some ideas I just took for granted. So in response to all this confusion on what to eat for dinner, I ate a bag of sour gummies.

No comments: