Thursday, July 27, 2006

Omnivore's Dilemma

I just finished "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan. What an interesting and thought-provoking book.

The first section takes you through the experience of eating and raising factory farmed animals and commodity crops. Pollan discusses how corn became this huge business and the dilemma corn farmers face because of government subsidies and programs that just exasperate the problem of low prices and overproduction. The descriptions of the feedlots made me glad I'm a vegetarian.

The second section was the most interesting to me. Pollan describes the practices of Polyface farm where animals are pasture raised. It was simply amazing to me the way this farm tried to mimic the cycles and habits of how animals naturally eat. By having cows graze a mixture of grasses, and then moving them to a new pasture, the land does not become overgrazed. Chickens follow the cows into pasture. They eat the bug larvae from the cow pats, enjoy the shorter grasses, and spread the seeds in their manure. It is particularly gratifying to note that animals raised in this way are healthy and there is no need for antibiotics and other drugs. Pollan also discuss the "big organics" and how that industry has changed since the demand has grown.

The last section discuss his experiences and hunting and killing his own meat and foraging for his food.

This is a great book to get you thinking about where you're food comes from and who you want producing it.

PETA protesting KFC

PETA has been organizing protests at Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. They claim that as the leading chicken buyer (more than 850 million a year), they have the responsibility to demand humane treatment for its chickens.

Chickens are the most abused of all factory farmed animals. They are routinely:

- painfully debeaked using a hot blade
- crammed into cages with barely enough room to move
- bred and drugged to be so heavy so fast they their legs cannot support their weight and often break
- have their throats slit while they are alive
- are scalded alive

I watched the Kentucky Fried Cruelty DVD and there was footage taken secretly of workers kicking and stomping on live chickens - just for fun.

I don't recommend eating at fast food restaurants but if you do, please boycott KFC - and consider not eating chicken at all.

For more information, go to

Saturday, July 08, 2006

"What to Eat" by Marion Nestle

Marion Nestle's latest book "What to Eat" gives a comprehensive look at almost every food available in today's supermarkets. She goes aisle by aisle giving you information on how to look past marketing ploys and decide what foods you should really be feeding your family.

Here are a few questions answered in this book:

- Is organic worth it?
- What's the difference between conventional, natural and organic meats?
- Is it better to eat farm-raised fish, wild-caught - or any fish at all?
- What's the problem with partially hydrogenated oils and transfats?
- How can foods with hydrogenated oils have no transfats?

She also addresses:

- food safety
- supplements
- additives and preservatives
- nutrients added to junk foods
- frozen and fresh foods
- portion sizes, labeling, and nutrition claims

I highly recommend this book as it will give you a lot of insight into how foods are marketed, how food companies make their money, and how to read nutrition labels. I originally checked this out from the library - but after I was about a third of the way through, I bought my own copy. I know I will refer to this often.