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When It Comes To Food, Ignorance Is Bliss

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?


7 Responses

  1. Your clarity of writing has left me stunned and speechless. I am an animal lover. I stopped eating meat and fowl in 1976 because it was cruel to the animals but………………eating them sounds a lot kinder than raising them as you’ve described. Stomach turning! I am also sickened by the actual “betterment” of the organic raised animals, yet these clowns can now claim their product is organic for a hefty price increase.

  2. You have to see Food inc. the images will stay with you. I have not had fast food since and when I am at a restaurant I look for locally raised meats or I do not eat meat. Luckily I live in Sonoma County where we have a wide selection of “safe” produce and meat.

  3. Your writing is great. I should add you to my blogroll.
    Interesting. I am not vegan or raw or anything and admittedly each much animal products; but its all so flustering to “know too much”…it can lead to ovethinking or obsession in really extreme cases.
    Its hard sometimes to know whether to read any of it at all…or at least take it lightly, you know?
    I guess it would be easier if the world used sanitary and humane practices for everything. But no chance of that happening.
    In meantime, it is likely hypocritical of me. I eat animal stuff, and I don’t eat all organic.
    Thanks for the comment on my blog… I really really appreciate this and love that you find any of it of interest to read.

    • Thanks so much! Totally agree with you regarding it being flustering, especially as there is no clear alternative (other than going vegan perhaps) for us happy carnivores!

  4. Yep, it’s just downright scary! I’ve been reading and looking into foods for a couple of years now. Consequently, we eat at home a lot more now – at least I have control over some of what goes into what we eat. I also grew up with a garden full of vegetables and do that today. But you can’t grow everything yourself.

    I just finished reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. Great read.

    • Loved In Defense of Food, that’s the book that lead me backward to The Omnivore’s Dillema.

  5. Interesting thoughts – these are things I have wrestled with over the past year as well. This summer I finally stopped eating meat – not so much for the animal cruelty issues, but more for the reasons you have cited – the way meat is raised and processed is just gross. Plain and simple. I still eat seafood, but luckily I live in Alaska where it’s easy for me to get the non-farmed variety. As far as dairy and eggs – cutting out most (cow) dairy was not difficult – I fully realize I’m not a baby cow and I know I don’t need that kind of fat (let alone hormones) in my diet. However, I still enjoy the occasional egg – haven’t figured out how to reckon with that one yet! You are absolutely right about the irony of our obsession with being sanitary seeming to go hand in hand with our love for the burger!

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