As I mentioned in earlier posts, I was very effected by Michael Pollan’s books and would like to make changes to our current diet. Julie and I actually eat somewhat close to the prescribed ideal. But Judah is another story. We’ve been very lazy with our approach to child food and, as a result, have been feeding him far too many non-whole-food products.
Without getting too soap-boxy (I’ll leave you to read the books and get specifics for yourselves), the problem is that much of the food we (as in Americans) consume each day is not actually food. Our “food system” has become a a vehicle for the delivery of processed ingredients, mostly corn-based, via food-like products. If you read the labels on your foodstuffs and it has more than five ingredients, or you don’t recognize most of the ingredients (don’t be fooled by words that sound familiar – broccoli is broccoli, tomatoes are tomatoes) chances are you are eating the very stuff that has made our nation so unhealthy and overweight.
Equally, if not more, troubling is that when we choose our meat, we must remember that we aren’t just getting nutrition from the meat itself. Rather, we must consider that we eat what our meat eats. Again, corn is a major culprit. You can read Pollan’s history of how corn became the defacto diet of our livestock, which is only part of the disturbing story here. Feedlot conditions, disease and antibiotics all paint a very scary portrait of industrial meat production. But most importantly, the negative effects have made their way into our diet. Cows were meant to eat grass and the dietary effects of that are tantamount to creating a more sustainable and healthy diet for my family.
What also surprised me, and is prompting my change, is that even if you are shopping at Whole Foods, you are not exempt from these problems. I’ve been a holier-than-thou Whole Foods junkie for years. Unfortunately, organic corn-based processed foods are very present in much of the offerings on their shelves and their meat, eggs and dairy are not necessarily all that pious. I thought that WF was watching my back but sadly it seems that they are not terribly distant from the same problems that plague the likes of traditional supermarkets. Being “organic” just isn’t enough.
So what does all of this mean for me and my family? As I said, I have to trust that you have read or will read the books to understand the breadth of reasons why we are making these decisions. And, I am not a person of extremes. Our lives are simply too busy to eat every meal from more-than-organic farms and pastured 100% grass-fed meats. This is the goal, but the reality needs to be more flexible.
With that, I’d like to chronicle my attempts by posting the specific trials and tribulations of a family attempting sustainability. Today we’ve made the first step. We used to receive a weekly delivery from Planet Organics, which we are now resuming. I am trying to vette them as much as possible, which is not an easy process. From what I can tell, they support local, sustainable farmers, including Marin Sun Farms Meats, which is 100% grass-fed. Still, I’d like to know more about the specific farms they support and the processes of those farms. The devil is in the details.
Additionally, I will still need to shop at Whole Foods or Rainbow Grocery, but with a much keener eye than before. Gone are the days of believe the low-fat hype. No longer will I grab boxes with health claims and food-like substances just because in-Whole-Foods-we-trust! I feel empowered and will not fall pray to the bullshit that has encumbered our society, unless I choose to (which those who know me, know that I have a soft-spot for junk food and am fully aware of my shortcomings!).
Lastly, the farmer’s markets of the Bay Area provide the best way to connect with my food sources and I plan to expand my horizons to include Alemany (yeah Nicole!) and Berkeley (yeah Cristina!). I’ve been a Ferry Building fan since inception, but my wallet suffers each week and I need additional resources.
It won’t be easy to break Judah of his chicken-dinosaur, fish-stick, hot dog, pizza, spaghetti and macaroni & cheese diet. But if we learned anything from Greece is that with patience and the right timing, he’ll open up to other foods. In the interest of his carbon and nitrogen composition, and avoiding the epidemics of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, we need to break out of the corn-based diet and bring real foods into his life. Our lives.