Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Soapbox is Getting Bigger

Over the past several months, my thinking has been radically challenged by some of the books I've been reading (I guess that's what a good book is supposed to do....).

I started off by reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan right around Christmas time. I had seen an interview with him and was quite intrigued by what I saw. One of the main points he makes is that so much of what we put in our bodies is not food at all, but rather a food-like substitute. The majority of the grocery store is filled with items that were made in a lab instead of grown in the ground. Nutritionism has become some weird science, wherein we read a nutrition label before we buy something so we know what's in it. You know what's in an organic apple? An apple! No label needed. Science finds the latest nutritional breakthrough and then injects it into everything - case in point, Omega 3. One of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids is from nuts but we frown upon nuts because they are high in fat....Instead, we inject it into a low-fat yogurt-like substance. How about the new Froot Loops - now with fibre! Seriously!

He also talks about our associations with food and how a culture so obsessed with being healthy is one of the most obese on the planet...hmm. In France (if I remember correctly), the study showed that their association with "chocolate cake" was "celebration." In America, it was "guilt."

The other book that I just finished reading is The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. Now, let me make a couple things clear. Never did I think I would read a book by Alicia Silverstone and actually learn something (I associated her with "Clueless"). Also, my favorite food in the whole wide world is cheese. Bacon comes in a close second. Comfort food to me is Thanksgiving dinner - turkey, stuffing, gravy....bring it on. So the idea that I might read something so thought provoking as to make me consider not only becoming vegetarian but actually going as far as vegan took me completely by surprise. And it was the sections I read about dairy that were the most disturbing - maybe because I already knew about meat production and have been doing my part to make better choices (if you are local, check out Sherwood Meats).

The other thing I want to look into more as I continue on this journey is what the Canadian standards are as I know that both of these books are written with the US factory farming in mind. I have heard that Canadian standards are supposed to be better but I need to find out for sure. I will be sure to post the results I find.

Until then, I have discovered a new way of shopping (and I don't imagine I will ever go back to the grocery store model the way I used to). Independent farmers and the wonderful Old Strathcona Farmers' Market - wow, Costco's got nothing on these guys when it comes to free samples! I was so happy to discover Sunworks Farms. Not only is their meat certified organic but it is also certified humane, something that I am realizing is more important for our health than we give it credit for.

Does it cost more? Yes. But we have become so accustomed to buying mass quantities of food for very cheap. The problem is that the nutritional value is not the same and there is a price behind the scenes that we are not seeing. Plus, although we might save our dollars at the cash register, we end up paying with our health. The western diet is linked to so many of our major health issues, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes. Cultures that don't eat like we do have much lower rates of these diseases. It is about choosing quality over quantity and learning a new way of eating and living.

Am I there yet? Not even close. But I am moving along a different path. It is very easy to stay in the dark and not learn about where our food comes from but I challenge you to do some research. I know I will continue to do so and will endeavor to make the best choices I can for myself and my family.


Trevor & Erin Iampen said...

Cindi - if and when you make it out to Sunworks, let me know what you find. I found them on the 'net and was intrigued. :) yay for locality!

Cindi said...

Erin - they are set up at the Strathcona Farmers' Market every Saturday. We enjoyed one of their fine chickens for supper tonight.

Geosomin said...

It's tricky, but I've found that local produce and meat that is ethically grown tastes better. I know the animals were well treated and the food has no chemicals...I know I"m not eating chemicals and the local farmers get supported.
Everyone wins.

I've decided that my health and wellbeing is worth a few extra $$.
I totally agree with your food stance...the more you eat clean and get away from processed foods ,the worse they taste and the better you feel.

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