Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eating Smarter

If you follow my book blog at you will know that I'm currently reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year in the Life of Food" by Barbara Kingsolver. It is fascinating and depressing all at the same time. The facts introduced in the book regarding where our food comes from and what it costs us environmentally is stunningly grim. But what I've learned about asparagus is more than I ever could have believed. I mean "who knew?!"

The book is about eating only local foods along with vegetables and fruit out of their garden for a full year. Easier said than done as it turns out. Some products are nearly impossible to attain anymore without having access to specialized equipment. Flour and oats for instance. The family also gave themselves an item that each felt that they could not do without - coffee for her husband, dried fruit for her oldest daughter and baking spices for her. (I'm not sure I could make an apple pie without cinnamon either!)

The book was written in 2007 and as I head into the third chapter it has already occurred to me that this countries finances were a lot different then than they are now. Of course, although it was known by only the Alan Greenspans of the world and they kept it a secret, the economy was already on it's way to collapse. My point is that organic foods are almost always more expensive.

Even as Ms. Kingsolver talks about the American people becoming more conscious of their food choices I know that this trend is already beginning to reverse. It is not because we no longer care but because we can no longer afford it. One of the more annoying car commercials on the planet is the one where they ask the rhetorical question "Do you have to be rich to be safe?" Well, hell yes you do, at least in the good old US of A! You have to be rich to eat fish, to eat organic food, to have your own doctor, and to have at least 2 - four wheel drive vehicles that allows you to not see the ancient small Subaru you've just run over -(sorry, I digress).

Poor people have to eat Top Ramen and Kraft Mac and Cheese. They have to eat the most highly processed foods because these are the foods we produce cheaply in bulk. These are the corporate food producers that taxpayers help subsidize and who grow endless acres of corn and soybeans in order to create high fructose corn syrup and added fats. I guess organic farmers who raise animals on the food they were born to eat, like grass, and who grow vegetables in season, don't have any lobbyists.

One positive thing about reading this right now is that it fits in where me and my husband would like to go with our diet. We may not have made it to the promised land yet but we're going to have a heck of a time trying to get there. I was happy to see in the first of Camille Kingsolver's contributions she includes in her weekly menu a Sunday dinner of Organic Roast Chicken that is exactly what we had for our dinner last Sunday. Her weekly menu includes the leftovers served on Tuesday - chicken soup. Tonight I'll be using our leftovers for chicken and dumplings. I'll report on how it went tomorrow. Until then, eat well and eat smart.

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