Monday, April 20, 2009

Food Fascination

Lately, I have been getting increasingly interested in the origins of our food. I'm not overly sure why this fascination has taken hold now.

Maybe it's all these years of glossy city-living finally coming into collision with my country bumpkin roots, where eggs come from pet chickens and kids bring pig hearts to school for show-and-tell.

Maybe it's the recent listeria and mad cow scares, those visible, festering sores brewing on the skin of our diseased meat industries.

Maybe it's that now, in the twilight of my twenties, I'm old enough to really vote with my dollars, but still young enough to have the fire and vitriol about right and wrong.

Or maybe all of this is a bizarre form of nostalgia for New Zealand, where the following conversation actually happened:

Karla: "Hi there, is this beef organic?"
Supermarket butcher: "What? What do you mean?"
Karla: "Oh, uhm..." (realizing she didn't know what organic beef is, exactly) " it grass-fed?"
Butcher, with look of perplexed disdain: "Of course -- what ELSE do cows eat?"

Good question. I didn't know what normal Canadian cows ate, but given the rarity of grass-fed beef, it certainly wasn't grass. Which seems weird since, of course, cows eat grass. So what are they eating? I realized I needed to find out.

Navigating the food information is tricky, since much of this information is "hogged" by animal rights propagandists. According to the multi-billion-dollar studies of the US Department of Homeland Security, the most active and dangerous terrorist organization on this continent's soil are animal rights activists... so naturally, I would prefer to "steer" clear of their input.

(I know, these puns aren't all that cow-mical... ok, I'll stop.) ;-)

Nonetheless, I needed to find an even-handed, non-shockumentary look at the sources of our food. And I found it, via an excellent book called "The Omnivore's Dilemma".

This interesting, balanced, non-judgemental narrative follows four meals, from seed to birth to plate. The first meal described is the fast food meal made by industrial agriculture, the second by industrial organic agriculture, the third by holistic organic, and the last as wholly hunted, gathered, and grown by the author himself. He reflects on and compares everything, from philosophy to final taste, weighing the pros and cons of each.

This book is full of deliciously interesting tidbits and food for thought... and since I'm thinking about it as much as I am, you will certainly be hearing more at a later date.

But don't worry, I'm not at all interested in becoming a nutso hippie living off grubs and poison ivy, either. So, my future posts will not be intended to disgust or veganize you, but to share what I've learned. Maybe we can even discuss it sometime, over a delicious, grass-fed steak.

Until then, bon appetit! :-)


Speaka said...

Looks like a great book! Are you lending it out : )

Karla said...

Nope -- it was a library find! :-D I LOVE the public library!

Anonymous said...

Your Dad and I bought some grass fed beef (certified organic) from the St. Norbert market recently.
I actually had difficulty with the unusual tasted like grass!
I bet Karla and David will be planting a few veggies in their new back yard gardens!
Love to you both, Mum