What’s for Dinner?
There is so much information in the media right now about eating ‘clean’ or ‘whole’ or ‘raw’ or ‘organic’ foods that it can become confusing what all these words mean. What’s this ‘macrobiotic’ craze, anyway? Community gardens? Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution? Processed foods?
When I was growing up, we were unknowingly eating organic, whole, local, home-grown food. You see, we lived on a small farm in rural Minnesota where we maintained a garden and ate the animals we raised. Why? Because we had a large family and one man to support us all on his trucker’s income. I guess you could say we had a ‘community’ garden supported by 11 people (Mom, Dad and 9 more-often-than-not reluctant children).
Thanksgiving meal consisted of the turkeys (free-range!) we raised over the course of a year, milk from the cow (hormone-free!) in the grassy pasture (!!), eggs (organic!) from the neighbors’ chickens, potatoes, carrots and corn from our garden (pesticide-free!)…we were eating world-class food! We even made our own ice-cream (move over, ben & jerry)!
I am pretty lucky to understand where my steak, eggs, turkey and cheese come from…witnessing firsthand the beheading of chickens, skinning cows, slaughtering pigs and the dilemna of eating Fluffy-The-Bunny. I am decidedly not vegetarian but am conscious of my purchases, making sure my steaks aren’t from some creepy midwestern antibiotic-ridden mad-cow-disease-infested factory, nor my eggs from ‘nervous hens’. Sometimes I get grossed out drinking cows’ milk. I just can’t shake the memory of tugging an udder for eternity only to have the cow kick over the bucket after hours of my hard work!
Many of my city-folk neighbors do not appreciate this process: how is a child raised in Harlem, Brooklyn or the Lower East Side supposed to know where their chicken nuggets come from? Unless they’ve visited a farm or taken a course on horticulture, ‘hormone-free’ or ‘organic’ might just be fancy words on supermarket packages.
A great place to start understanding our food might be Michael Pollan‘s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemna“. In it, he tries to answer some of the most basic questions about our food: Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? Something organic? Or perhaps something we hunt, gather, or grow ourselves? I also really loved the movie (or book), “Food, Inc.” It’s a fascinating look at industrial, processed foods. Visiting a farm, apple orchard or community garden might shed some light on where food comes from.
Even I learned something on a recent Connecticut farm visit! Did you know Venus Fly Traps need a little raw hamburger every now and then?!