Friday, February 11, 2011

The Omnivore's Dilemma

"Getting Back to the Basics" started as a new year's resolution to feed my family only whole REAL foods. At the same time, I began reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, a book written by Michael Pollan; and soon after, I began getting back to the basics in a more powerful way. Not only was I changing what and how my family was eating, but I was also questioning where the food I was eating came from. Over the last 2 months I've been scrutinizing each food item I purchase and have had many "omnivore's dilemmas":

(1) to buy conventional produce, organic produce that came from Mexico, organic produce that traveled half way across the country, produce from the farmer's market, or produce through a CSA;
(2) to purchase a roasted chicken that was not treated humanely by my moral standards, organic free-range chicken that still may not be treated humanely, or pasture raised chicken from a local farm;
(3) to buy canned beans, organic canned beans, dried beans, organic dried beans, or dried beans in season from the farmer's market.

I've had a dilemma, like these, for every food item on my grocery list: milk, eggs, wheat flour, oats, soy milk, cheese, tomatoes, etc. And as I've been working my way through all of these dilemmas, I've deemed it necessary to understand where and how these foods are produced, cultivated, and/or processed. For when we understand how the food was brought into existence and to our dinner table, we can make better choices (which are defined by each of us based upon our morals) about which foods to eat. For instance, if I want to bake fresh bread using wheat flour, which type of wheat should I use (durum, emmer, red fife, winter wheat, etc.), which type of flour should I get (unbleached, bleached, cake, pastry, self-rising, etc), how much processing should the wheat undergo (e.g. white versus whole wheat flour), and finally which brand of flour should I purchase (i.e. should I buy a national brand or a local product).

Learning about wheat flour is just the beginning for me. I have much to learn about every food in order to feel comfortable with the food I buy. To be conscious of what we're eating is achieved more fully when we understand where the food came from and the energy cycle it takes part in. To be appreciative of what we're eating is developed when we attempt to prepare the food (and each of its ingredients) with our own hands. "A meal that is eaten in full consciousness of what it took to make it is worth preparing every now and again, if only as a way to remind us of the true costs of the things we take for granted."

My bucket list just got a lot longer!

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