So this weekend, amidst all the cookies and fudge and potatoes and falafel (I decided to break out of the normal Thanksgiving leftovers), I finished Michael Pollan’s amazing book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and it truly has changed the way I look at food.
First, the basic premise of the book is that Pollan is tracking where our food (and food-like substances, i.e. Twinkies) come from. He looks at the food chains here in the States and describes the processes by which food comes to our tables. In the end, he comes to some pretty striking conclusions about American eating habits.
Here’s what I took away from the book, without giving too much away. I will try to avoid eating corn syrup whenever possible, and I will try to avoid eating corn that is no longer corn-ish (i.e. malodextrin, citric acid, etc). I don’t want to keep flooding the market with corn that helps keep farmers underpaid and contributes to America obesity.
I am also even more resolute in my vegetarian diet now. Perhaps, if I’m ever in a situation where I can buy meat from sustainable, free-range farms, I will change that position (although I doubt it – I simply can’t handle the thought of killing an animal, and if I’m not willing to do it, then I don’t think I should eat it.) That said, I do understand why people eat meat, and I don’t judge others. I’m simply doing what seems right to me.
I want to try very strongly to grow more of my own food and to eat food in season. I think I’m really going to miss salad in the winter, but I’ll make it.
I need to think carefully about the organic food I buy. Is the organic food any less commercial than the the non-organic food? If not, then is it more beneficial – in terms of petroleum and the other costs – than eating a non-organic, local product? That’s a tough one.
In fact, after I read this book, I found myself curious about what I could eat at all, but then my mother made an observation – she is so wise. She said, “Obsessing over eating good food is like obsessing over anything – it’s not good for you,” or something to that effect.” So I’m not obsessing, just trying to be thoughtful. And I’m reading Pollan’s next book In Defense of Food so that I have some more wisdom on how to make reasonable choices.
What do you guys eat, not eat, avoid, crave? Tell me about your food stories. I’d love to hear them.
And if you have reviewed this book, let me know, and I”ll link to your review.