Tag Archives: In Defense of Food

Thoughts on Food, Inc.

I watched Food, Inc. last night and enjoyed it in a horrifying, “Gross, I just bought chicken. I wasn’t thinking about how it’s farmed when I made the impulse, grocery store purchase. Now I don’t know if I can actually eat it” sort of way.

Much of the information was nothing new from what I’ve seen in other similar documentaries such as Our Daily Bread (warning: do not eat in front of the TV) and the Supermarket Secrets exposé series from the UK (don’t get all superior, the exact same things happen here).

I assure you, I may have seen much of it before, but it’s no less disgusting and infuriating. Whether we’re talking about how animals are “farmed” — and I use the term loosely — or the Big Brother tactics of seed companies, or even industry/legislator incest in food regulation, I hope we start waking up en masse to the seriousness of these issues. Sooner than later.

There were a couple of angles in the film I particularly appreciated. First was an interview with Gary Hirschberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt company, especially the extended version in the special features section of the DVD. He talks about the power of consumers and business to shape how industry and mega-corporations behave, in this case Wal-Mart.

When Wal-Mart gets on the organic food bandwagon you know the concept has gone mainstream. They are in it for the profit, without a doubt, but that profit is driven by consumers. And the side effect is many more tons of pesticide and poison NOT spilling into our watersheds, as well as less crap in our food. How is that a bad thing? (Watch for a brilliant clip where a farmers happily tells Wal-Mart execs who’ve come to visit, “Wow, I’ve never even been in a Wal-Mart store, we boycott them.”)

Another great element of the film is dialogue with a farmer who clearly describes the benefits both health and environmental of choosing small scale, integrated farming methods. Watch for the description of how keeping cows, pigs and chickens together creates mutually beneficial side effects and reduces the need for artificial interference with medication and chemicals. Again, it’s worth watching the extended interview.

And finally, my favourite thing about Food, Inc. was how, after showcasing the sorry state of affairs, they wrap things up on a high note with a list of things anyone can start doing right now to vote with their dollars. The film does an excellent job of highlighting many of the entwined issues surrounding food security, then offering ways for you and I to get involved and contribute to resolving the problem. And it’s not even that hard!


Effects of the American Diet

I’m in the midst of reading my personally autographed copy of Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, which advocates (among other things) eating real food vs. “edible food like products.” So, I got a chuckle today when my cousin passed along this forwarded email  “commentary” of the American diet:

Michelangelo’s David to be Returned to Italy

Michelangelo's David

After a two year loan to the United States Michelangelo’s David is being returned to Italy…

Michelangelo's David after a USA holiday

During his stay his Proud Sponsors were:

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Michael Pollan at UBC Farm

I had a chance to take in the UBC Farm Fundraiser with Michael Pollan last weekend, a well attended event for all ages.

Not yet having read In Defense of Food — my newly autographed copy is now on the top of my stack of 20+ must-reads — it was interesting and novel to hear his abbreviated version of how we’ve come to be in this place where we need, as he put it, an investigative journalist to tell us what and how to eat.

It IS more than a little odd that in a few short decades we as a society have moved so far away from the land and any sense of the source of our food.

During his humorous and sometimes tongue in cheek presentation, I was gratified to hear Pollan talk about many of the things that I’ve come to believe about the value of choosing more local food options — even without me having read his book:

  1. Eating food, real food not “food-like edible products,” has a huge impact on our overall health.
  2. Farmers markets build community. Research shows people have 10x more conversations at a farmers market than in a grocery store. I have experienced this on a regular basis.
  3. Many worldwide issues are addressed in shifting to a local food focus, including reducing greenhouse gasses and carbon footprint, reducing health issues, creating sustainable farming…
  4. And my favourite, no one idea will be the solution to our ills, we need to use multiple approaches: urban farming, organic, sustainable farming practices, innovation, etc.

I don’t believe in having a narrow approach or that the same approach will be right for everyone (i.e. I am not, and do not believe I ever could be, vegan). It’s not about finding THE answer, it’s about finding AN answer. And another one, and another one.

Now I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into In Defense of Food

UBC Farm Fundraiser with Michael Pollan

Not to be missed, the final in a series of six Provenance: You are What You Eat, is “UBC Farm Fundraiser with Michael Pollan” of the bestseller, “In Defense of Food”.

Saturday, June 6 at 1:00 p.m.

The series concludes with an afternoon presentation and book signing with author Michael
Pollan, on tour with the paperback edition of “In Defense of Food”. At this fundraiser for UBC Farm, Michael will share his manifesto for eating: “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Guests will receive a copy of “In Defense of Food” and will have the opportunity to have books signed by Michael.