Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dilemma Indeed

I had prepared to be repulsed while reading Mark Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and my preparation was warranted. Pollan's book, logging in at 450 pages, was quite the undertaking seeing that I have not read a book in a long time.

Corn, corn, corn; it seems that we have quite the surplus in the US. Still, I had to do a double-take when I read that Bt corn is genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide.

I think Pollan is correct when he writes that yet since the human desire for sweetness surpasses even our desire for intoxication, the cleverest thing to do with a bushel of corn is to refine it into thirty-three pounds of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Pollan goes on to say that, annually, about 17.5 billion pounds of high-fructose corn syrup are produced and that, essentially, the government will subsidize HFCS but not carrots.

Other topics that caught my attention included:

  • 400 Cattle An Hour

  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)

  • Earthbound Farm's Story

  • Environmental Costs of Cheap Food

  • Grading System That Favors Corn-Fed Over Grass-Fed Beef

  • Growth Hormones

  • Manure Lagoon

  • Nature's Logic -- No Match For Logic of Capitalism

  • The French Paradox

  • I liked how Pollan went and worked on the Polyface farm and highlighted grass farming but, best of all, I like the final chapter, The Perfect Meal. Pollan, for the most part, makes a meal out of food that he foraged or hunted (wild pig). In Pollan's words:

    Scarcely an ingredient in it had ever worn a label or bar code or price tag, and yet I knew almost everything there was to know about its provenance and its price.

    I'm strongly thinking about upping the amount of organic items that I purchase. Of course, even HFCS can be certified organic.

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