Don’t let the title of this post fool you. I’m not talking about these scary stories…
I’m talking about the scary stories found in this book…
My commute to and from work these last few weeks has been reminiscent of childhood camping trips or sleepover parties thanks to the horrors described in Michael Pollan’s 2006 NY Times Bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma. [Cue scary music...]
Based on Pollan’s first-hand investigative reporting, I’ve deduced:
- Almost everything I eat is derived from corn.
- Buying organic meats and produce at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s shouldn’t make me feel quite so noble.
Companies who peddle organic food through those chains use clever marketing–Pastoral Marketing–and suggestive labels that influence shoppers. A friend of mine, Christy from The Daily Dish, recently illustrated the stark contrast between packaging imagery and the reality in a post about Stonyfield Farm yogurt.
I’m guilty of buying into the organic mystique and based on industry sales, I’m not alone. I didn’t really understand the nuances of organic until I read this book, Fast Food Nation, several websites, and a few articles on the topic. I now have a working knowledge, but not much beyond that.
In a nutshell, organic is becoming more industrialized every day and isn’t quite as healthful to our planet or to us as marketers would have us believe.
Let’s take chicken for example. According to voluntary regulations, organic free-range chicken should have access to the outdoors. Since these chickens aren’t mainlining antibiotics, a trip outside could be the death knell for them and the rest of the coop’s inhabitants.
Pollan describes one industrial organic farm as giving “outdoor access” to the chickens at 5 weeks but by this time they are so used to their routine that they never venture out the little door to the 15×15 patch of grass. At 7 weeks, the chickens are slaughtered, processed, and shipped off to your neighborhood Whole Foods.
I’m not really sure that Pollan will find an answer to the dilemma presented in his book–I have a few CDs left to listen to–but just about everything we eat has been adulterated in some way or fashion. Though I won’t go vegan as a result of reading this book, I will be more mindful of what I’m eating. Want to read more?
- For links to farms that raise meats, dairy, and produce the old-fashioned way, check out EatWild.com.
- Help support local farmers and have fresh veggies (and a host of other farm-fresh goodies) brought right to your door with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)–pay up front to help the farmer raise capital and then reap the benefits all season long!
Look for a review of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma later this month here on Book, Line, and Sinker.