Sunday, April 25, 2010

More reflections on eating...

We watched Food Inc. the other night. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma several months back (Sarah is starting it soon) and last night I started In Defense of Food.

All of this is reinforcing some things that I had suspected, showing me some new ways to look at things and... generally making me immune to hearing about what we should be eating.

Among the many points that are at very least worthy of discussion by everyone:

  • Why do we want to ingest food that wasn't raised like what it's supposed to be? For instance, cows shouldn't be eating corn. In fact, corn makes cows sick. Yet, for reasons of economics (corn makes a bigger cow faster so you can sell more meat at lower prices), that's the way it works. Chances are you wouldn't want to eat mutated fish or some sort of anything that has been brought up in a way that wouldn't occur in nature. Yet, that's what we do for the most part.
  • I already hear the "that's why I'm a vegetarian!" cries. Well, don't worry, most of your greens aren't brought up the way greens normally are. Most everything is grown in a monoculture that makes plants more and more susceptible to disease, drains them of nutrients in some cases and (not to get all Darwin-y) hinders their ability to survive non-ideal conditions. And this is to even begin to start on...
  • ...seasonal foods. You think apples are ripe in your area all year? Grapes? Lettuce? Ask yourself where these things come from in the months that aren't your area's growing season and you might find some alarming answers.
I by no means am a perfect eater. And I certainly don't have a solution to this on a mass level. But I do think Sarah & I are starting to try to find ways to be more local, to eat more in season. And to worry about calories instead of nutrients. We've been on this planet for 50,000+ years and it's only been since the 1960s that we've had crazy health problems related to eating. Yet we know more about nutrition than ever. Odd, no?

And, more and more, I am becoming sure the solution is not to become a vegetarian. After all, we've got acids in our stomachs and a set of teeth that show we're certainly meant to have some meat now and then. If I am going to profess that we've got the natural order of things out of whack, then I need to respect what nature has done to make me a true omnivore and eat some meat, no?

But the final takeaway, I think, is that there isn't any real reason I shouldn't enjoy the foods I love. As long as I am making the right decisions at the store, and not gorging myself at home, I should be able to eat the things I love with no apprehension whatsoever.


Adaena said...

Did you really mean that you are going "to worry about calories instead of nutrients," or the other way around? Because I think that the kinds of stuff (i.e. nutrients) we're putting in our bodies trumps calorie consumption anyday. In fact, a lot of so-called diet food that is low in calories is oftentimes overprocessed, nutrient-starved garbage.

It's virtually impossible to consume too many calories if eating in moderation the kinds of foods that Michael Pollan advocates. I'm not a model eater by any means, but I know that if I want to consume less than 1,800 calories and never have to read a label, I just buy whole foods at my favorite organic grocery store.

Just my two cents.

Of all the experts in the food biz, I gotta hand it to Michael Pollan for his simple, sound, no nonsense advice.

Also, please don't think everyone who is vegetarian is doing it for the same reasons. The notion of eating animals has been weighing on my conscience lately and so I recently cut it out of my diet. It has nothing to do with corn vs. grass fed. I've had cow both ways and neither feels right to me personally.

Jay said...

no, i mean buy the right kinds of foods (not over-processed stuff so I don't have to worry about "nutrients." I'm starting to believe that if you go with the whole foods, the nutrients work themselves out. So, then, it's an issue of calories and volume.

And you don't want to get me started on the other reasons I am not a vegetarian. :-)