Monday, November 17, 2008

The Omnivore's Dilemma

We've all heard the old saying "Ignorance is bliss." Let me tell you friends, when it comes to what we eat, Ignorance is bliss. Once you read this book, you will not be able to eat the same. I promise. This book traces the history of 4 different meals. 1)Mcdonalds 2)Whole Foods 3)Food from a local amazing farm 4)He does his own hunting and gathering for a meal. This book is not a fast read. I actually didn't finish the last 75 pages in time for book club, so you may be thinking that it is boring, but it isn't. It is just a lot of information to process. The first 50 pages alone talk about corn. While I'm on the subject, the overuse of corn in our country is freaky. You'd have to read the book to understand, but the next time you go to the grocery story, see how many items you can find in the cereal isle that don't have some sort of corn as an ingredient.
Another topic they talk about that is insane, is where our meat comes from. What is injected into beef to make them beef up, ready to slaughter so fast, how many organic "free range" chickens are still treated horribly and live in disgusting circumstances.
The book even explores the idea of organic. Organic is better then most alternatives, but since this market has been industrialized, it too has many many flaws. Eating locally is the best. Okay, this was a lameo cliff note version of the book... but there is so much to talk about, I don't even know where to start. We had such a great conversation about this book at book club. Although I still have many things to work on concerning being aware of where my food comes, here are some things I am working on to try to be more conscientious of not only what I eat, but where it really comes from.
1)I buy local eggs from free range grass fed chickens (this is important) from a friend every week.
2)I try not to buy anything that has "High fructose corn syrup" on the label or "partially hydrogenated oil."
3)In the summer, I buy pretty much all of my produce locally or pick as much as I can. I actually have a little bit of an obsession with this if you will remember from a previous post of mine. I like seeing where my food comes from. I like harvesting. I like being outside with my kids.
4) I try to make as much homemade food as I can... thus avoiding processed food as much as possible. (Obviously we eat processed foods too... I just try to keep it to a minimum). I am on a homemade applesauce kick right now, and I try to make homemade bread when I can.
5) Meat... I am having a hard time deciding what to do with meat. I am not ready to throw in the towel and become a vegetarian, but I do have issues with meat. I buy non-hormone oregon chicken... but this probably isn't good enough. I am not sure what I will do with chicken. I also found a place that sells oregon beef that is hormone free. I really want to find someone who will sell me part of their grass fed cow next summer so I can freeze it. The ultimate thing I am learning about meat is that we really should eat it sparingly. I need to make more vegetarian meals, and I also am starting to use less meat when I do cook with it.

This list is not mean to make people feel bad if they are not doing the things on this list, because like I said, I have a lot of things to work on. I was already doing some of these things before I read the book, but the book made me want to be even better. Read the book and tell me what you think!!


adrienne said...

Yeah, I think you're right about ignorance being bliss! :) It's hard for us here, because we aren't able to get a lot of stuff grown locally, because of our climate, especially fruit. There's a lot of misinformation out there as well. Like when it comes to Organic, I've read that there is some things that it doesn't matter like bananas and oranges, because their peel protects them.
I agree with you about meat, but I actually really like meat! Unfortunately, I don't like all the stuff that's done to it and I don't like what it does to me, if I eat it too often. We don't eat it everyday, but I have a hard time coming up with alternatives that we enjoy. Let me know if you come up with some good recipes. Meat is so expensive here as well, so that's another reason I'd like to cut back.
Since we moved we now live in a slightly better growing climate, so we are going to attempt a big garden next year and hopefully we'll be able to grow the majority of our own veggies. I'm excited!

Kim said...

Loved the book and it has changed how we eat as well. Next one to add to your list...
Animal, Miracle, Vegetable by Barbara Kingsolver.

Don't apologize Kara for getting on your soap box about this. This is a VERY important topic. We need to know what we are putting in our bodies and how it affects the environment. My one challenge to all who read this- Don't buy fruit or veggies that come from South America this Winter. Is it so important to have those strawberries or grapes that they need to be flown here from Chile? Would you get in our car and drive a few hours for a quart of strawberries? No because it is a waste of time and gas. Think about where your food is coming from and the price of getting it to you.

The meat thing is crucial to. Try to find local farms that sell cuts or shares of meat. You will probably pay more than if you bought in the grocery store but you will be doing the right thing.

R&A said...

There's a woman named Sue in Buena Vista (Independence) where I buy eggs and goat milk. She also sells poultry in the winter and perhaps beef. The co-op sells great red meat though, I used to buy ground lamb there, all grass fed and chemical free. Check your farmers market as well. Salem market has frozen grass fed beef.

Margaret said...

I'm scared to read that book....
Austin and I had a little garden and ate local this summer and it made such a difference. I could tell! But it is harder during the winter months...I can buy a lot of beets right now!
The meat thing is tough. We don't eat it a lot as I'm not a huge meat person. Well, not red meat, but we eat chicken regularly and I have no way of knowing what is a good way to buy chicken. Also, my cousin bought a cow once and split it with a family. It was so good and lasted FOREVER in their deep freezer. They knew it had been treated well, fed well, etc. It is an option.
I'm planning on reading Animal, Miracle, mother-in-law recommended it to me.

Jaime said...

Kara I am a total crazy lady when it comes to finding food without Partially Hydroganated,(I totally spelled that wrong) oils in it!It is sooo hard to find food without it!!

Tonya said...

Hey, girlfriend--great blogging! I loved this book too and have been trying to make better choices for a while now. You are an inspiration, my gathering friend! :)

Elisa Street de Masias said...

Legumes, legumes, legumes! Being married to a Peruvian I had to figure out some legume recipes. Lentils, canary beans, split peas....they're cheap too! One extremely common way to eat them here is to cook them, add sauteed onion and garlic, serve them with rice and them make a dressing of onion with lime juice, salt, pepper, and a little bit of oil. You can also add tomato to the onion, cilantro, or any other fresh herb you like (parsley)!