books: January 2008 Archives

ominvores dilemma S.jpgI recently read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  Wow.  If you haven't read this book, go buy it now.

Pollan traces a simple McDonald's lunch to the US's surplus of government-subsidized corn, its abundance of cheap high-fructrose corn syrup (the overconsumption of which contributes to high US obesity rates), the pesticide-induced dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, toxic and cruel factory farms, resistant strains of bacteria, and even the war in Iraq. He also sheds light on the darker side of the industrial organic food industry, digs into increasingly rare sustainable farming practices, and explores the subcultures of modern-day hunters and gatherers.

One of the most enlightening aspects of his book was his approach to calculating the true cost of food. Yes, local organic lettuce or a free-range chicken may seem more expensive than traditional alternatives, but they've also accounted for the cost to grow, harvest, and transport the food.  Traditional food items (including that McDonald's lunch) have enormous hidden costs to tax payers' wallets, the environment, own our personal health, and (some could argue) world peace.

However, Pollan leaves one big question unanswered, specifically the one with which he opens his book: What should we have for dinner?  

By the end, I had made some progress deciding what I wanted to have for dinner - to borrow words from Slow Food, a meal that was good, clean, and fair - but I wasn't really sure where to get it. I started checking the labels on my organic milk and eggs in the fridge, no longer sure if they fit the bill. My next trip to Whole Foods was distressing. I no longer trusted the USDA Organic seal. I couldn't tell where some of the vegetables I wanted to buy were grown. I tried to read between the lines of the ubiquitous "pastoral narratives" on product packaging. (How much was accurate and how much was marketing fluff?) Everything I thought I knew about eating (and shopping) well had been turned upside down.

Enter Wicked Flavory. I've decided to start this blog for others like me in the New England area who think about where their food comes from and want to feel good about what they eat.  

I won't get preachy and I won't be a pain in the ass to feed if you invite me over for dinner.  I'm not a perfect eater and I don't expect anyone else to be either.  But I'll do the best I can to eat deeply satisfying food and to share my finds with you.


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