Saturday, July 3, 2010

A MOMnivores Dilemma

I just finished reading An Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It is A Natural History of four meals. He attempts to answer the question "What should you have for dinner" and after digesting this book, I can only answer "very little"! From what I understand his book is very much along the same lines as "Fast Food Nation" and "Food, INC" (Both on my list to see whenever I would like to shed a couple of more pounds)
As a mom I am now even more aware of the threats of potential hormones and chemicals getting into my precious child's body. The book tells of the multitude of uneccesary and downright scary ingredients in a certain crack-for-kids fast-food (which my child has had). You would think this item would have two, maybe three, ingredients, when in fact (according to the book)it has thirty eight. One of which, alarmingly, is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, "an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the (food item in question) or the inside of the box it comes in to "help preserve freshness." According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a (certain food item). Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill."
Oh, my, my!!! I already wanted to avoid these items anyway for the animal cruelty that I believe is associated with them, but if this is true from a health standpoint I am horrified!
Yet, in the "muddiness" I grapple with, I am sitting here drinking a coffee my husband brought me this morning from the very same establishment and I will sometimes take my son there (right around the corner) on a rainy day to play in their play area and get him something else I consider healthier. Hypocritical of me? Probably!
I, as many of us did, grew up on the place. Even to get my kid a milkshake from there (which I have) I now have to think about growth hormones in the milk and again, not to mention cruelty to the cows separated from their calves and hooked up to milking machines all day. Yikes! Why can't it just be easier! It certainly is easier not to think about this stuff, but when you do ...
Eating organic makes me feel better, but it is expensive. I just amusingly heard someone refer to Whole Foods as "whole paycheck". I have heard some people compromise by buying organic produce that tends to retain chemicals more and non-organic for the produce that doesn't. I just discovered this list of "the dirty dozen" and "clean fifteen" that I found interesting.
Coming away from the book, I have a strong desire to support local organic farmers and the humane aspect to animals is huge to me and another issue altogether. ("Free Range" isn't always actually free range) Yesterday I found a farmers market that I can buy from once a week. That will help, but obviously it is not easy to eat that way all of the time--going to restaurants, etc. Is anyone else struggling with these very issues?


blueviolet said...

I started that book but never finished it because it was due back at the library. Oops. But it was completely fascinating and a little scary! Now I need to go back and get it again!

Molly said...

I've got that one on my list. Right now I'm reading The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. I'm going through something right now that is totally turning me off meat, which is bizarre.

mudmama said...

BV, I had to check it out twice to get it finished!
Molly--I want to read that! I will see if the library has it whe I am there today.
I have been a pesca-lacto-terian for years. I'll be curious to see how that goes for you.

Momnivores said...

Funny, that is the name of my blog, inspired by Pollan's book...

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