Tag Archives: Michael Pollan

“Beyond Organic”

Meet Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms: “Beyond Organic” farmer. The following quotes are taken from an article written in 2006 by Michael Pollan for Mother Jones. Joel Salatin “We ask for too much salvation by legislation.”

“Don’t you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?”

“Greetings from the non-bar code people…”

“…whenever I hear people say clean food is expensive, I tell them it’s actually the cheapest food you can buy. That always gets their attention. Then I explain that, with our food, all of the costs are figured into the price. Society is not bearing the cost of water pollution, of antibiotic resistance, of food-borne illnesses, of crop subsidies, of subsidized oil and water—of all the hidden costs to the environment and the taxpayer that make cheap food seem cheap. No thinking person will tell you they don’t care about all that. I tell them the choice is simple: You can buy honestly priced food or you can buy irresponsibly priced food.”

“When someone drives up to the farm in a BMW and asks me why our eggs cost more, well, first I try not to get mad,” said Joel. “Frankly, any city person who doesn’t think I deserve a white-collar salary as a farmer doesn’t deserve my special food. Let them eat E. coli. But I don’t say that. Instead I take him outside and point at his car. ‘Sir, you clearly understand quality and are willing to pay for it. Well, food is no different: You get what you pay for.’

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We eat too much. And produce too much waste.

“Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” – Michael Pollan

I have started to practice thinking about everything, all the time. It’s great fun!

Cause and Effect

I practice thinking about the consequences of how all my actions, decisions and choices impact everything – literally from start to finish (from inception to decomposition). It seems a little odd to announce this doesn’t it? Especially since it should be a commonly practiced characteristic. Sadly, somewhere along the way of improving and making life easier we have been hypnotized by fast food (including healthy fast food!) and convenience merchandizers to believe that we are just too busy to think for ourselves…they want to think for us – and they have been. The result has been a disservice to our health and planet. Using the power of subliminal messaging via visual media and sound bites, we are being convinced of what we want and need.

From real product labels:

“Knowing the busy lifestyle of today’s families and the difficulty to make confident healthy food choices, [name withheld] brings these READY-TO-USE cooking stocks to Canada.”

It is so easy to make homemade stock which don’t require single-use disposable packaging.

“I know it can sometimes be challenging to eat right, especially when you’re on the go. That’s why I’ve created my line of healthy foods – so you can enjoy wholesome, tasty snacks even with your busy lifestyle…”

That come in single-use disposable plastic packages.

Thinking about cause and effect – from start to finish.

It seems to me that when we do something or create something, for the sake of our planet and for the benefit of all inhabitants that we need to consider in detail, from inception to decomposition the consequences of our actions.

Wind Turbines

For example: The incredible wind turbines. 537,000 Birds died at wind farms last year (including 83,000 raptors) in the U.S. alone and additionally it is estimated 888,000 bats were killed.

Were the details from start to finish properly or efficiently taken into account when designing these wind turbines? Perhaps the only consideration was how to create natural energy.  Producing clean power is fantastic, but causing hundreds of thousand deaths in the process is like blood energy.  How to create clean power without blades? Perhaps someone should ask James Dyson.

James Dyson

Yogurt fiasco? Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side

Greek yogurt’s acid whey by-product that is toxic to the environment and kills aquatic life has nowhere to go. Large-scale manufacturers are shipping it to farmers who feed it to their cattle (though the cattle can only tolerate a certain amount in their feed). Maybe we need to rethink the necessity of this yogurt rather than working on ways to turn the by-product into something else to ingest. Do we really need another sweetener syrup and would you really want to feed your baby infant formula made from this?

Cooks make meals from real food. Food scientists make ingestible substances disguised as food from by-products. By-products are the waste generated from processing. Think about what you are eating. Choose breast milk for babies. Choose naturally grown produce and if you eat meat, eat it in moderation from farmers who don’t feed their animals by-products! Grocery aisles with more meat than will be bought covered in plastic just for our convenience. We need to fix this.

I think of Marcella Hazan whenever I walk through the meat section at the grocery store. She was a self-taught American-Italian cook who having grown up in Italy had never stepped foot in a grocery store and prepared farm fresh poultry. When in American supermarkets, she came across chicken wrapped in plastic; she said it was unnatural, like they were in a coffin.

So many questions surface from such simple inquiry. Simple things such as buying milled flour, packaged in plastic.

flours in plastic

  • How does the plastic negatively affect the flour that I will be consuming?
  • How is the plastic package made in the first place?
  • What is the environmental impact that goes into making the plastic?
  • Where does the plastic wrapper go once I’ve used up the flour? Landfill? Waterways and ocean?
  • Where does the plastic wrapper go if I choose to recycle it with other plastic bags?
  • How much energy and water does it take to recycle plastic in the first place?
  • What does recycled plastic get turned into?
  • Isn’t turning recycled plastic into more plastic pointless?
  • I think I’d rather mill my own flour or buy from local farmers who package their flour in paper.
  • Paper packaging uses a lot of natural resources too, but it’s a step in the right direction.
  • Maybe I should re-think what I need flour for?
  • Am I eating more food than my body requires for optimum health?
  • Do I really need to make this much food?
  • Do I really need a treat? Especially every single day?

And so on…

I am trying to live a more Proactive Life. Being proactive is defined as: creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.

 

 It is easier to prevent disease than it is to cure disease.

This example would apply to both human and environmental disease.

These are some questions I have started to ask myself daily about everything in which I come into contact (not just flour!). I think about clothes, shoes, cars, bicycles, athletic gear, art, dishes, appliances and the list goes on.  How these items are manufactured and what will go into maintaining these items? Dry cleaning? Can the items be repaired when broken? How long will the items last? Where will these items end up when either they break or I don’t need them anymore? And yes, at times thinking like this has a somber effect on me, which is all the better, because that’s when I know that I can change. That’s when I wake up a little more and become more aware of my actions. The sadness I feel when I come to the realization: “What have I done? And “What am I contributing to?” This daily activity towards becoming proactive has helped me to come up with more constructive answers, which sit better with the person I effort to become.

“Do no harm & leave the world a better place than you found it.”

– Patricia Cornwell

I think about where my food comes from. Do you eat foods that are processed, which require opening a factory sealed bag or container to eat or cook with it?

I think about buying products from local farmers. But I take into account how those local farmers relate to the land; are they practicing sustainable agriculture? Do they practice food safety, equitable employment? Do they consider their environmental imprint from start to finish? How is their product delivered to store shelves? What’s the point in buying organic produce if it is covered in plastic?

Simultaneously, I think about how I cook the food that I buy. What kind of waste do I create in the process of making meals? How much aluminum foil do I use? I’ve read that cooking with foil at certain temperatures is not safe because the aluminum leaches into the food! I have cut down on re-heating food in the microwave and never use it for cooking.

“Think, think, think.”

– Winnie-the-Pooh

 

Eat Food.

Not Processed or By-Products. Not Packaged.

-Kathryn Palumbo

 
 
Note: I wrote to Bob’s Red Mill asking if they would consider repackaging their products in paper. In the meantime I am buying local flours that come in paper or from bulk.
 
 
 
 

Navigating the Supermarket Aisles with Michael Pollan and Michael Moss

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