Tuesday, April 08, 2008
The Joy of Food
It is the rare book that has a profound effect on me. I wonder how many books I’ve read in my life, I suppose I could average at 2/3 books per week, there have been sometimes more, sometimes less. Perhaps I’ve read 7,500 in my life to date. Maybe 10% were memorable, most are now forgotten best sellers and some are re-read classics - for instance I never tire of Jane Austen.
In the last few weeks I’ve had far too many books on the go, five at last count but two, by the same author, are still with me.
The first was the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. This opened up my eyes to the way we have let Agri-business baffle and confound us with food. It has removed our choices, often lied to us and taken away the simple joy of eating. All with the complicity of government who don’t protect its citizens as it should with correct labelling and proper oversight. A compelling read and I will never forget the chapter on mushrooms.
The second was also by Michael Pollan and called “In Defense of Food” where he encourages us to step back and refuse all the packaged food on offer today and get back to simple meals, the simple preparation of same and the old fashioned protocols of table society. Shared meals, mainly plants, and conversation.
If your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise this food, don’t buy it, he advises. It is mainly corn and derivatives anyway and the long term effects are still unknown.
I was struck the other day by a photo of a woman stretching her meagre food dollars at Walmart, she could only afford to shop on her paydays. There was not one visible vegetable or fruit in her cart, it was stacked to the top with boxes and packages. This is how much we are all removed from real food. A captive audience for these behemoth frankenfood industries to tell us what to eat as they keep adding and subtracting suspicious additives to packages (now with Omega 3!) to keep grabbing our attention, (think of the years of trans-fats being pumped into foods with the nod from government).And of course the huge diabetes and heart medical industry is completely inter-reliant with said agri-business.
As Michael Pollan advises, just shop the outside wall of the supermarket, never venture into the middle, it is a dangerous place with killers lurking everywhere. One can’t go too far wrong on the outside wall and it sure speeds up the shopping process!