Do you ever read one of those books that forces you to look around at parts of your life and evaluate?
I love those.
And I hate those.
Earlier this summer I read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivores Dilemma, and it got me thinking. Through a narrative that is equal parts story and research, Pollan tackles the question, what are we eating? What should we be eating? What food is actually better for us? By better, Pollan illustrates how we have to think not only of our own health, but that of our planet, our communities, and the global economy. With all the ever changing diet and food trends (Gluten =bad, no — now quinoa is killing the world, wait — we should cook everything in bacon fat!!!), he astutely illustrates that, “We have become a nation of autonomous eaters, each of us struggling to work out our dietary salvation on our own.”
The book is fascinating, and thoroughly convicting. By the end of it, I was mildly panicked that corn is in EVERYTHING, that all my meat has lived sad unfulfilled lives, and that I live in the city and can’t grow my own food. (Ok, and even if I was in the country, let’s be honest: I kill everything I try to grow. My third sad basil plant of the summer is proof of this.)
Now, I realize that his book was clearly one-sided. My smarty pants economist little brother gave me a very long lecture about how buying only local, etc., actually makes us feel good about the world, but hurts people who benefit from the larger global economy. I’m not prepared enough to combat his argument, but he made some good points that contradict Pollan’s book. I know that anyone can skew any data to show whatever they want.
But still… the book made me think.
And in my garden-less state, I finally signed up for the Washington Green Grocer.
Now, this beautiful box of fresh produce shows up at my door every Thursday and it is like Christmas. Plus, getting a box of local, seasonal produce every week has forced me to broaden my cooking. In the past two weeks, I have roasted more beets than I can count, prepared fennel, and made homemade pesto out of garlic scapes — all three things that had no place in my kitchen before this. Furthermore, I did the math and paying for this box of produce not only satisfies my green guilt, but it tastes better and ends up costing the same or less than the grocery store. But all of it got me to thinking about stewardship. We live in a world tending to excess where our diets are concerned. Most women I know are stressed about, or at least preoccupied with, feeding our selves and our families with healthy, sustainable, balanced, ethical, food. Free range, organic, local, cage-free, un-pastured — the list of things that we have to find ways to afford goes on and on and on, making meals something so fraught with ways that you can go wrong and be killing yourself and THE WHOLE WORLD with every bite. Talk about pressure.
So much of life comes down to stewardship, what we do with what we have. I want to be a good steward of my body and our earth. I want to eat foods that keep my healthy and promote good practices in our world. But I also have to be a good steward of my money and my time. Buying only good meat and dairy would mean that we couldn’t afford to eat either. Getting up every week to go to all the different farmer’s markets would not only drain the budget, it would take up the time that I like to sleep in and brunch with James, and that matters to me too.
So for now, I’m trying to make good decisions as I shop and loving my Green Grocer Box.
What are your thoughts? Do you subscribe to a CSA or something similar? Anyone read The Omnivore’s Dilemma? What did you think?