Thursday, June 9, 2011

Food Reading

I'm currently reading Marion Nestle's What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating. She's reiterating a lot of the things that I read in the other books I've been reading or movies that I've seen about where your food comes from, but rather than just hitting on the ugliness of factory farms, the chemical issues with processed foods or focusing on having a plant-based diet, she really does a multifaceted approach in a longer-than-average length book that is surprisingly highly readable.

In other words, you get more of a broader perspective of the whole food industry. My favorite part about her analysis is that she talks more about the government's relationship with the food industry through the USDA and the FDA than the other books. You stop seeing these offices as protectors or planners of the American food industry and see how it's more their job to help sell food to Americans in order to foster and support American business. She'll explain to you what is good and bad about the traditional way produce, meat and seafood are brought to the market (of which, seafood is the most scary) and also talk about what it means to be organic and why there are so few organic options these days in the meat area. (Organic deli meat choices at our Coop are minimal and expensive $7.45 per package, so we've removed deli meat from our purchases.) 

It's also a nice book for folks who have done prior research. You can kind of start skipping parts that you are already informed about. But my favorite thing about the author is that she doesn't just look at food as a scientist. She's not out to freak you out or scare you into a vegan diet. Instead, she looks at her research from her view as a shopper. She talks about going into her local stores in New York and asking people behind the counter where their food comes from. Most folks who work at stores don't know much about what comes into their counter except that it comes on the truck, particularly in large big box stores. But she also talks about how hard it is to live local and organic, no matter where in the U.S. you are. Fresh has different meanings, and the fresher you want your food, the more you'll have to pay through the nose -- and, of course, the more you'll enjoy the summer season when the most produce is available to you.

If you're looking for a text that doesn't look to make your food a moral choice for you... This is a great example. 

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