I always knew there was something up with trying to figure out what to eat but I had never known what to call it. The dilemma: what to eat in an increasingly industrialized society that purports to tell us (with alarming frequency) what to eat, how to eat it, why it is good for us and how they are making the ordinary foods we used to eat “better”. Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma touches a very deep root of the human consciousness, a root which all of us share, regardless of religion or race. That is: the need to eat. We all do it and many of us love it. But where does it come from, this food that we eat? That we source from the grocery store or corner market or (gasp) drive-thru window? And what does it take for it to get there.
As my own knowledge of the human impact on the world around me increases, I have become acutely aware of my own individual footprint upon this planet. That footprint has been, so far, thirty years in the making with only maybe the last six to ten of it containing any sort of consciousness about what I use, where it comes from and where it goes to when I am done with it. But i become more and more aware of the fact of the electricity I use, the gas in the car, the plastic baggie that held the cheese in the refrigerator: do I toss it in the garbage? One more trace of plastic for the landfill or do I reuse it? I reuse it. I recycle it. What do I really need is the question. And what do I have that I can use in new and inventive ways? Likewise, when I look at food: in general I eat a fairly balanced diet, a lot of whole grains, a lot of fresh vegetables. very little sugar (except for the honey in the tea, the occasional cookie and the piece of dark chocolate) and as-consciously-raised-as-i-can-find-it meat. All well and good for certain… but just how conscious is the Whole Foods or the Trader Joe’s? what is industrial agriculture… what is organic industrial? And what is truly sustainable? For one thing: buying organic no matter what does decrease the amount of chemicals sprayed on the ground, thus leaching into the earth, the tap water, your blood, into your food and into you… and that, my friend, is a good thing.
Anyhow, I’m not going to get into the whole gist of the book but if you care about yourself, the food you eat, and the planet you live upon (and care to learn why the average McDonald’s meal contains almost 50% corn) than I would suggest picking it up.
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