I'm back! (with a vengeance...)

I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I wrote. My career has taken some interesting twists and turns in that time and I also chose to take on a couple more volunteer positions in the community, which have both been very fulfilling...and busy. So now, after an increase in responsibilities at work and the addition of the service stuff, my resolution this year, I decided, would be simple: to slow down. So now, as we all push into 2011, I vow to make time for the true loves in my life – writing, cooking and eating – again.

It's funny how much a person can evolve in the way she thinks about food in a year (and a half?). As I reread my past posts from 2009, I realize that I have come a long way in that sense, even if I haven't written about it. First, my thoughts on organics – though still somewhat in flux – have solidified in favor of them in a big way. More and more of them are appearing in my pantry, fridge and on my plate. The reasons for this are numerous, as detailed below.

The discovery of a local organic co-op that supplies me with an affordable surplus of organic fruits and veggies on a bi-weekly basis (see a recent selection to the right). Words cannot describe how much it rocks. And as a result I have expanded my palate even more: I have eaten dandelion greens, which are kind of bitter, and kiwi berries, which are like a cross between a kiwi and a grape, and more. Fascinating. And delicious.

Reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food.  I love this man. His advice is simple: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. While most Americans would argue that they do eat food – maybe too much and maybe a little heavy on the meats, but food nonetheless – Pollan argues that the "foods" most Americans eat actually are so processed that they are more products of science than nature. He goes so far as to suggest that if a packaged food item advertises that it now has More Fiber! or Less Sugar! or Added Vitamin C! to steer clear. These grocery items are sad victims of Nutritionism, the newest national "eating disorder" that forces people into thinking they should eat with a focus on single ingredients and nutrients (really, whatever the latest food fad dictates). Pollan instead directs people to start with basic ingredients – fresh produce, limited meats, and natural grocery items (though shoppers should also be wary of the empty marketing term, "natural" because it has no formal definition) – and make real food at home, with a focus on variety and freshness. He also is a proponent of organics. No additives, pesticides or chemicals. NO GMOs. No preservatives. No sneaky fake flavors or chemical dyes. Just...food.

Consideration of our planet. I have been reading about conventional farming practices and, frankly, it's pretty horrifying. Just like germs that become resistant to antibiotics, weeds and crop-consuming bugs have become resistant to pesticides. So, instead of figuring out more natural ways of fixing the problem, farmers – with the funding of the U.S. Government – are paying scientists to produce Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), including corn, soybean, cotton, canola, and other variants, that are more resistant to the same pesticides that no longer work at the "safe levels." Ok, sounds fine, right? The problems here are plenty, but the main ones are as follows:

1) Now even more dangerous pesticides can be dumped directly on our food without killing them. In addition to delivering even more Round Up (yes, industrial Round Up is what's used...) directly to our systems, this poisons our soil, drinking water and natural habitats – disturbing all levels of the food chain. I don't need to explain how dangerous and scary this is.

2) GMOs have been shown to cause cancer and organ failure in lab rats and these organisms (not food) are literally grown in petree dishes. 95% of canola, 85% of soybeans, and 75% of corn are GMO products now, no label required. And guess what? If you eat non-organic processed foods, you're certainly eating GMO soybeans and corn as syrups, stabilizers, thickeners, flavor enhancers, etc. It's not as simple as just avoiding these items in the produce aisle. (Rising cancer rates in America? It can't have anything to do with popular processed foods and GMOs. Oh, and the FDA? They haven't officially stamped approval on these items; instead, they have "acknowledged" that the producers claim that they are safe, and have allowed them in our supermarkets.)

3) Today's crops have been genetically engineered for mass production, not mass nutrition. Industrial farming is under intense pressure by food giants to produce more, more, more (for less and less money). The solution? Genetically modify the foods so that they grow faster and bear more. The result? Zucchini and beets with lowered nutrition. Why? These plants are rushed and don't have time to develop deep roots that draw the minerals from the soil, nor do they have the time to grow the way nature intended. We're short-changing ourselves here. Organics are grown slower and naturally, to make sure that every last mg of Vitamin C develops on its own before its picked.

That's all for now on the scary stuff. For now, I will leave you with this SUPER YUMMY granola recipe, which I have been eating by the bowlful with vanilla yogurt. (Note: I didn't have agave, so I doubled the honey, and I used dried cranberries in place of the mango, simply because it was what I had on hand.) Enjoy!

I will post more delish foods in the next post, and will keep you posted on what I learn from here on out. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea you had a blog like this, I love it. My fiance and I were just talking about switching to organic food last week. The movie "Food, Inc" started the conversation, along with a mix of emotions about where our country stands on the way it mass produces food. I cannot believe that ammonia is used to cleanse a percentage of ground beef! Not to mention, the commercialized "round-up" and the way that farmers are forced to use it on their crops. So frustrating. I look forward to more posts and suggestions from you. We don't have many local markets here in Vegas, but I am on the hunt to find them. We are going to plant our own garden as well. For now, we are making more selective purchases and frequenting our Whole Foods more often. Thanks for sharing!