I finished this book last week, and set this posting to reflect the day I finished it (Goal #55 on my list).
The Omnivore’s Dilemma was gifted to me by younger brother two Christmas’ ago, and I added it to a small, but growing, stack of books to read thinking I’d never get around to it.
To wrap my mind around all the amazing information this books presents to the reader- the consumer- and write it up with accuracy in a book review (book reviews being something I haven’t done since grade school I think) gives me a massive headache. Where do I even start?
Maybe, I’ll try to just quote and summarize some of the bigger ideas, but I warn you now this is a long winded post. There is just no other way…
-Eating, in America, truly is a dilemma. As a culture we’ve been mindfucked into believing any new trend in research – and any new dieting fad. A study says “this” is good for you, and we overdose on it. Another study says “this” could cause cancer and we avoid it like the plague. But if you look at other countries, particularly ones with little-to-no health issues and longevity, it shows they don’t follow any trends but just simply continue to live off the land around them. We don’t do that.
-Agriculture is always going to be organized by the government, but to the benefit of corporations, not for the farmer and never for the consumer. When the government regulates and subsidizes crops and livestock like it does, it keeps prices down for Corporations and keeps farmers and farm workers, generally, poor. This is said for those farms that buy into the government programs. What is the number one crop commodity? Corn. How do we produce it quick? By creating a hybrid of the most successful kind of corn along with unhealthy fertilizers.
– Cows are not designed by God to eat corn. Yet, corn mixed with antibiotics are exactly what they are fed 100% of the time. Why? Because cows that are stuffed with corn grow much faster than cows that graze on grass, which leads to quicker turn over and slaughter rates. When people talk about “beautiful marbling” of fat on a piece of meat, that is actually corn & antibiotics that the cow cannot process so therefore sticks on their body as fat. If the cow can’t process it, what do you think it does for OUR bodies when we eat that “beautiful marbling”?
-And why Antibiotics? Because the cows get so very sick from eating corn their bodies cannot process, and combine that with standing around all day in their own shit. So you don’t see the cows doing that as you drive through the back roads of Dixon? Sure, but those cows aren’t going to Safeway or McDonald’s or AppleBee’s. Those cows are going to specialty Butcher Shops and Higher End restaurants. But that meat you are buying from Corporation businesses? Those are coming from shit holes in the Midwest. Or outside Stockton.
-When the diet of our meat switch from one of grass to grain, so did their -and subsequently OUR– Omega intake. Significance? Omega-6 (Which helps blood clot) is found in seeds of plants while Omega-3 (which helps blood flow and acts as an anti-inflmmatory) is found in the leaves. So, Corn/Omega-6/Blood Clotting (seeds of plants) is fed to cows, pigs, chicken. Then we eat it. Then we get heart attacks and heart disease and it’s linked to meat eating. Then we run around screaming about how we need to cut back our meat intake and become vegetarian. Whereas, if we ate GRASS-fed/Omega-3/Blood Flowing animals, we’d all be a little bit better off…….
“The Organic Label is a Marketing Tool. “
-Shopping Organic or at Whole Foods is in fact just a bunch of fluff and feel good crap. For the most part. While buying and eating Organic is by no means a bad thing, it is in fact another market trend that big corporations are preying on with the consumer. The Author of this book, a Journalist by trade, investigated multiple “Organic” Farms and found that while they may use Organic soil or feed their chickens Organic feed, they are typically not living the Wholistic lifestyle they write about on their labels.
It’s complicated for me to summarize, but basically say you walk into Whole Foods and see pictures of smiling migrant workers holding a crate full of fresh tomatoes and you read this short narrative about how this Organic Marinara is making the world a better place. But chances are that Migrant Worker isn’t all that happy at all, the tomato and other ingredients travelled an average of 1500 miles to arrive on the shelf (thus adding to the overall pollution by way of fuel & industrial factories) and the nutritional value has greatly diminished because …
“a tomato grown in Tennessee does not have the same nutritional value as a tomato grown in California”
What does that mean? It means there is a reason why potatoes are suppose to grow in Idaho, Peaches in Georgia, and grapes in Napa. These foods have a God-given design that dictates the environment in which they may thrive but because we as Americans have demanded any food at any time, we’ve produce farms and fields that do just that. Without consideration of the diminished value. So is that Organic Marinara Sauce any better just cause it has the organic label? Not neccessarily.
Long story short, if you want to eat healthier, live longer and support your community, you need to buy and eat locally. Which also means eating with the seasons again. Who does that anymore? Countries with better health and longer lives do.
There is so much more in the book that I’ve only barely scraped the surface. Michael Pollan does an extensive job researching where our food comes from. From fields in Iowa, to factories, to slaughterhouses, to Chain Restaurants and grocery stores, and right back to the Hunting and Gathering lifestyle. But what I’ve walked away with is a stronger resolve to not only eat more locally and more seasonally, but avoid highly process foods and to stick to grass fed animals.
One may argue that it’s too expensive to eat this way, but Michael Pollan argues back that we somehow manage to find $100+ to spend on cell phones each month, we manage to find $75+ to spend on cable TV each month, $50+ a month on internet service, etc. etc. etc., why can’t we find that kind of money to make ourselves and our community healthier? At the same time, while the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s is a cheaper way to fill you up, the cost it puts on our health later down the road, plus the cost it puts on our environment, and the cost of government campaigns to end obesity and the taxpayers money spent to combat the medical fallout of that dollar menu suddenly makes your $3 local organic snack look much more reasonably priced.