by Chelse Dyck
Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivores Dilemma, is well learned in the history of food. His approach to educating his audience about food and how food has now become a questionable "tangible material" I found very effective. This book is an enjoyable mix of science and politics of food, strung along well by Pollan's witty touch, it is intended for anyone interested in learning how to separate the "real" food from the "fake". His aim is to bring the pleasure back to eating food, by changing people's thoughts first followed by a lifestyle change. This book is a reasonably easy read, but mixed with nutritional lingo and scientific explanations it is targeted to a young adult and up age group.
He divides his content into three sections; The Age of Nutritionism, The Western Diet and the Diseases of Civilization, and Getting over Nutritionism. This book covers the concept and history of nutritionism, defined as a reductionist way of approaching food by viewing food as a sum of its parts versus as a whole. He stresses how nutritional science has affected the food industry immensely with very little scientific ground. One scenario that really surprised me was the "lipid hypothesis" created in 1961 that promotes minimal amounts of animal products due to cholesterol and saturated fat. In 2001 studies found that saturated fat has little to nothing to do with heart disease, while trans fats (its substitute) actually increases risk of heart disease.
In the next section, westernization and Americanization of food is highlighted and how it has affected global culture, by decreasing traditional foods along with the biodiversity of food. One thing that I took away from this section was the importance of viewing food as more than "biologically necessary", but it is also meant for pleasure, community, culture and spirituality. The last section of the book gives rules for the reader to follow to "get off nutritionism". This was my favourite section because simple and practical solutions were offered, such as avoiding foods that makes health claims, stray from food that is incapable of rotting, "pay more, eat less", shake the hands that feed you, and most importantly enjoy your food.
I really appreciated facts and stats that backed what he was claiming; he sourced his information and summarized well what case studies presented. He definitely is pushing for a movement away from nutritional science, but his position in his writing did not cripple me from realizing for myself how food is so packaged and processed where items such as Go-Gurt are labelled healthy. Pollan covered a lot in this book, at times it felt a little overwhelming on how much I was learning. This book really made me question all the recent health claims on food, and also did make me frustrated with the propaganda of food that is more concerned about marketing versus health. To anyone interested in learning about the history of margarine, polyunsaturated fats, anti-oxidants, carbohydrates"etc I would highly recommend this book, with also the recommendation of taking notes while reading.
re-posted with permission
This post was authored by Chelsea Dyck, a second year Environmental Studies student at The King's University College.
by John Elwood
"When your mum comes, we will cut a chicken!"
Anticipating the arrival of his American friend's family, young Gonja Saulo excitedly drew his forefinger across his throat to underscore the chicken's fate, and the happy thought of eating meat sometime soon.
To my son, Nathan Elwood, a chicken dinner was a lot less novel. But his neighbors in western Uganda almost never ate meat, except for very special occasions. And a visit from Nathan's family meant meat. One meal, to be shared lavishly with us.
After that visit to East Africa two years ago, the Elwood family started eating a lot less meat. We aren't vegetarians, and we're not even particularly nice to animals that invade our garden or prey on our laying hens. But we figured that we'd never learn how to embrace the world's 6.6 billion non-Americans if didn't rethink our national meat binge in the midst of an ever-hungrier world.
It turns out that we Americans eat a lot of meat. Not including seafood, the average American eats 208 lbs. of the stuff every year. That's 60 percent more than Europeans, and four times as much as a person in the developing world, like young Gonja. In fact, American men eat about twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein. For our children, it's worse: we feed them four times the RDA. Health experts tell us that this pattern of consumption leads to exposure to toxins, and increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity. And as I posted last week, meat consumption results in much more greenhouse gas emissions per pound consumed than other proteins.
So a few weeks ago, we decided that Mondays in our household would be meatless. Meatless Monday. We thought that " for us " it would be more consistent with the gospel, and might even catch on with others. So imagine our surprise at reading the Environmental Working Group Report last week and learning that Meatless Monday is a well-established national program already! (Get the report here.) Better late than never, perhaps?
And what good can Meatless Monday do? Well, EWG reports that if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day per week, over a year, the effect on carbon emissions would be like taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Think of it: 7.6 million cars!
So consider joining us with Meatless Monday. And if you stop by Good Hand Farm, you're welcome to join us for as much black beans and rice, eggs and garden veggies as you like. But if you want meat, you'll have to come back on Tuesday.
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
P.S. Some related, interesting facts:
Trash: About 20% of U.S. edible meat gets thrown out. For salmon, it's 44%.
Cheese: The yummy stuff is the 3rd most carbon-heavy protein, behind lamb and beef.
Fertilizers: They generate nitrous oxide, which has 300 times the global warming effect of CO2, making a strong case for organic food.
Manure: Commercial feedlots generate three times more of it than all human waste; and much of it emits methane, which is 25 times more warming than CO2.
Buying locally: Local veggies have as much as 25% less related CO2 emissions, due to reduced transport requirements.
re-posted with permission
John Elwood is the author and publisher of The Clothesline Report that deals with the effects of environmental degradation and climate change.
by David DeGroot
I enjoy a lot of aspects of coffee. It's fun to try a new bean or roast (I've been on a light roast kick for a while now), or a new brewing method (most recently the 1 cup filter cone has been working out great) and the caffeine in my coffee can allow me to function in the morning. Beyond this, coffee can provide some really excellent social benefits--such as drinking a cup with a friend, or meeting someone new at your local (or not local) coffee shop. What coffee isn't so good at, unfortunately, is water preservation.
Just how much water does it take to make a cup of coffee? According to a recent book, 1 liter of coffee necessitates using over 1000 liters of water. Growing, roasting, shipping, and finally brewing coffee all contribute to coffee's relatively large water footprint. Hopefully you won't need to add sugar or milk, or use a paper cup, asleeve, or a lid, because all of those items will add more water.
Water, as you know, is becoming more and more of a precious resource and we are learning that it too requires rationing and prudent use. So, instead of always ordering that latte or tall cappuccino, try a new kind of tea (I can recommend Prince of Wales). You'll still get that caffeine kick, but you won't be wasting as much water.
photo courtesy of The Economist magazine.