Friday, June 21, 2013

Food Thoughts

Have you read any of Michael Pollan's books? I snatched his latest, Cooked, at Costco on Tuesday and began reading it that night. I read the Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food while in college and learned a lot from both books. I find it fascinating to find out where our food comes from and how it is affecting our society and our culture. 

And then, of course, it is interesting to read how food is affecting our health. This morning I woke up to read the headline that obesity is now considered a disease. What did you think about that declaration?

Yesterday, while at a doctor's appointment, I looked at all of the health-conditions brochures in the office and thought that perhaps fewer of the brochures would be there if we only ate a better diet and more "real" food.

Let me get this straight - my diet is NOT perfect at all. I eat way too many sweets and not enough fruit or vegetables. I am very aware of this. It's probably the reason why I get stomach cramps while running or why my digestive system is out of whack. I keep thinking that by reading books including those by Pollan that I'll be scared convinced into eating healthier - a goal I've had for some time.

Ultimately, I am the one to decide what I eat. Not a book.

In Cooked, Pollan points out a fact within the first 3 pages of his new book: We (Americans) spend more time watching people make food on TV than we do preparing it ourselves.


Tom and I have watched Master Chef on Hulu almost every night this week and yet I can't motivate myself to put in that much time to make my own dinner - even now on summer vacation. I spend more time pinning recipes onto Pinterest than I do thinking about what I actually want to make for dinner. Oh heck - I read a book about cooking rather than actually cooking!


It is so much easier to buy a prepared dinner, but that is coming at a cost to our health. All of the extra sugar and sodium associated with those meals has an effect on us. Personally, I feel that we need to change a lot in society, mainly regarding food, in order for Americans to get healthier.

I fear that obesity as a disease will lead to more medication or general medical solutions after the fact, rather than actions that would prevent it - including education or reform on our food systems. I hate the fact that most of our meat comes from CAFO's. Pollan quotes a man in the first section of his book  that works in a BBQ joint in North Carolina. The man says that the pigs they roast don't taste an anything like they used to because of the way they are raised - in close quarters and unnatural conditions.

Does that mean I might like pork if the pig was allowed to eat grass in a field rather than feed in a barn?  That might explain why I love the carnita burritos at Chipotle, which use pork from grass-fed pigs.

Isn't it sad that an apple picked straight off the tree may cost a customer at a grocery store more money than a snack-sized bag of chips, which had to go through a factory to be created, then packaged up in to a plastic bag in order to be delivered? Don't even get me started on where that plastic/foil bag is going to go once we're done eating the bag of chips. Why is "fake" food less expensive than "real" food, even though it goes through more processing? A few months ago I watched this (somewhat disgusting) video of homemade ramen noodles digesting versus the packaged version.  It made me reconsider what I'm putting into my body.

I totally did not intend to write this post today, but I guess I just had to get my thoughts out there on this topic. In an ideal world, I would own 20 acres of land, have some animals of my own and a huge garden to attend to this summer. I miss the farmer's markets in Montpelier with food that was produced locally, organically, and in a sustainable way. I really believe that what you put into your body will affect your overall health. Too many times we turn to the easy way out - a pill from the doc instead of a look at our own actions. And by our own - I mean personally and as a collective society. Each time I walk by the 7-Eleven down the road and see a kid walking out with a slurpee I cringe a little on the inside.

If you're looking for a good read about the origin of our food, I suggest one of the books below. Tomatoland was written by a Vermonter and will forever change how you look at a tomato. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was a very enjoyable read and made me want to farm. I thought about this book as I was canning last week, happy that I was making my own jam rather than buying it.

Let me know if you have any good books on the topic. I have a whole summer to read, after all.

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