I’ve been reading Andrew Weil’s “Eating Well for Optimum Health” (recommended by Kath) and Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (via books on tape) simultaneously. The two books have turned out to be complimentary in that while reading in The Omnivore’s Dillema about how all mainstream cattle (including organic) is corn-fed, I’m also learning in Eating Well for Optimum Health that corn-fed beef, chicken and even farm raised fish has skewed our Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios in incredibly unhealthy ways.
Both books are serious eye-openers and shed insight into why America has gone from the land of opportunity to the land of fat and type-II diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes, except, oops now kids are getting it too). The books also reinforce that old adage that ignorance is bliss, especially when it comes to what is going into your body. If you want to retain your naiveté stop reading now. Seriously, STOP.
Ok, I warned you. Let me first say, while I like animals, especially majestic ones like giraffes, I am not a don’t eat a chicken because it’s cruel to the chicken person. I know some people are and that’s cool, that’s just not me. I am, however, opposed to paying for and eating beef, chicken, turkey and any other food that is procured from an animal that has spent the majority of its life being fattened by food nature did not design it to eat (corn and antibiotic combo anyone?) and standing, sleeping, and lying in its own waste. Health issues aside, that’s just nasty. That is, however, what most of us are eating, every single day.
The solution is simple right? Eat organic. Nope. At least not according to “The Omnivore’s Dillema.” “Certified Organic” it appears is nothing more than loose regulation and really good marketing. Synthetics in certified organic food? Check. Organic milk from CAFOs (confined animal factories)? Check. That free range chicken you paid double for? Free range for about 2 weeks of its entire lifespan. The end result? If you buy from any major organic supplier you are just paying double for beef, chicken and their products (eggs and milk) standing, sleeping and lying in its own waste, only this waste dweller is antibiotic free and eating organic corn.
So what are we to do? I don’t have an answer. To the extent you can buy local, talk to the farmers about how they farm, visit the farm if you can and see how your meat and produce is raised. If you don’t love meat, vegetarianism makes things a bit easier. Write your congressman and senator and seek changes – stronger standards for certified organic perhaps?
My questions are these: How in a nation so obsessed with “nutrition,” labeling and label reading did we become so detached from the process of making our food that we allowed it to become completely adulterated? How, in a nation where hand sanitizer is king did we decide it was ok to eat meat raised in its own waste?