There is a series of commercials on TV these days where one person asks another person a question and they just keep spouting out random information that is loosely related to the words the other person just said. It’s a nice demonstration of the information overload that we experience in our modern world.
As Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker (Spider Man for those of you who aren’t into that kind of thing) “With great power comes great responsibility.”
All this information has me feeling confused and overwhelmed. You’ll be shocked to know that the focus of the confusion is food. I believe it is safe to say that I am firmly planted in a food phase. I have been pickling and canning tomatoes and freezing peppers and harvesting veggies and herbs from my very small garden.
I’ve also been reading. I recently read Food Matters by Mark Bittman which encourages the reader to eat less meat and less processed foods. The first half of the book explains why this is important (including both personal health and environmental concerns) and the second half provides recipes for putting his plan into action. I really appreciate his full month of menus to help you organize his recipes. I have been making his homemade granola and wheat bread every week for the last month. Pretty tasty. I also like that his recipes are very easy and flexible. He really encouraged you to try new things and adapt to your own taste.
I am pretty sure I am not saving any money by making my own granola and bread. First of all, I get a little crazy in the bulk aisle and add a lot of crazy things. Also, the ingredients tend to come from varied cities so I don’t see how that will save the environment. It is definitely more natural and probably healthier so that’s a step in the right direction.
The main idea here is that by eating less meat and more simple foods, you will reduce the environmental impact of your meals while reducing your exposure to preservatives and additives.
I also just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. I have been avoiding this book for a while because I had read that it was a bit preachy and I was afraid it would inspire me to move to a farm and raise all my own food. Needless to say, I am still a city girl.
Kingsolver writes about her family’s experience of committing to year of cultivating most of their own food while obtaining any additional items from local or fair trade sources. The woman raised her own turkeys for Pete’s sake! That is definitely not allowed in my neighborhood. However, I really admire her passion and creativity.
She encourages readers to consider how they might change their buying habits to support more local farmers and producers. Unlike Bittman, she does not discourage meat consumption but she does support eating less processed foods.
One interesting thing I noticed was that neither of these authors are that impressed with organic labels. They both comment on the way that some bigger producers are lobbying to relax the guidelines and controls on the organic label. They also point out that many organic foods are still shipped from great distances.
Folks, I have no idea what to tell you. I feel like most trips to the grocery store are full of ethical dilemmas. Once you open up to these issues, it is a very slippery slope. I try to stay informed and to be mindful about what I feed my family and the impact my consumption has on the planet. I can admit to getting pretty excited when I find products that are locally produced and organic.
I think there is value in staying informed and putting thought into what you eat. We so often sleep walk through life and this is a good way to slow down and consider what consequences may result from our actions. It is a good practice in most areas of life.
For now, I will continue making my granola, canning, reading labels, shopping at the farmers’ market and hoping that we can keep our planet healthy long enough for my grandchildren to worry about the same things.