April 20, 2008

thoughts on food and saving the world

I went to the farmer's market this Saturday. I love spring. The asparagus! The strawberries! Sugar snap peas! And, I happened to find another vendor who has pastured chickens with no heads or feet, for lame, wimpy carnivores like me. These chickens are not cheap—I'll tell you that. The issue of price for quality, sustainable food is something Michael Pollan wrote about in Omnivore's Dilemma.

To summarize, he said the price is worth it. We should not be skimping on the things we put in our mouth. Somewhere along the way our priorities became skewed. Blame it on the industrial food complex or modern society, but putting toxic junk in your mouth just because it was a good value isn't always so wise. I realize there are people who have minimal incomes and can't afford such extravagance and I'll get to that in a minute.

In addition to prioritizing what we value, Pollan adds that the pastured meats and organic foods are actually healthier (besides being better for the planet). In the case of pastured meat he says it has less fat (and more of the good fats), more omega 3's and other nutrients (CLA's) that are simply not found in industrial meat(pg. 267). He makes an impressive point that what we choose to eat may not be as important as what IT eats. For example, if asked which is healthier: beef or salmon, most people would say salmon. BUT if you compare grass-fed beef with farm-raised salmon (which is fed grain!), the beef is actually better for you.

I just am amazed that I happen to be reading these exact pages of Omnivore's Dilemma at the same time that I am asking myself these questions based on what I am encountering as I shop to feed my family. Maybe it's fate that I am reading the book years after everyone else.

Even if I decide that pastured meat is what I want to serve my family, I struggle with the articles I'm reading lately about the famines and food shortages around the world. I read in the New York Times about a father in Haiti who fed his children 2 bites of rice one day and had no food for them at all the following day. I feel ridiculous worrying about which chicken to buy! But I think there is a connection. I think that supporting local farmers can only help fix the food supply issues that the world is facing. I also saw an article on Grist about this theory which helped support my notions of saving the world, one pastured chicken at a time.

I never knew I'd write so much about food on this blog. Originally, it didn't seem to be clearly a "green" topic, but now I see it as very important to the environment as it relates to what we put in our bodies and how we treat the environment—and that goes deeper than merely choosing organic. If you want to read more in depth about nourishing, sustainable food I suggest you read Carla's Blog, Local Forage. She writes about specific food sources and information.

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