Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Great Food Debate

March's book pick (for the book club I am) was "In Defense of Food," by Michael Pollen. This book was selected by a genius..namely me! Kidding aside, the book was very informative about the eating habits of us Americans; how much we have changed our eating ways since the time of our ancestors, how so much use of processed food in our diets has been a calculated move by those inside the processed food industry and how we can improve our food purchasing behavior.

It was that last bit of the book that has got me thinking. Some of the author's suggestions about our eating ways was that we overeat much more than from the past. Also we eat more of the processed stuff because it is cheaper than the good stuff (the healthy stuff). What if we, in America, made our food more expensive? Perhaps if we made our food more expensive we would waste less, choose what we ate more carefully? Less junk and more healthy stuff, I found that to be the case while living in Denmark.

On the other hand, I would hate to make food more expensive since it is a staple and this would make it harder for those most in need to get this necessity.

Where is the middle ground? I really definitely want to end the overuse of processed foods, the overeating and the abject wasting of food in our culture but at what cost??


Blogger mommanator said...

Aren't we Americans a mess! The food industry is a bigger mess!
nutrition, ha who cares about that.
dont start me I will get on the Aspartame kick again!
We process food to death then think nutrition is gonna be in it! NO, so then we put stuff back into it!
My brother is here visiting and we use unbleached/raw sugar an dhe cant believe how good it is!
Owell kick that soapbox nder someone else!

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My idea is that we put a tax on processed/junk foods to make them more expensive and that the governement sunsidize vegetables, fruits and whole grain foods to make them much less expensive. Overall costs of food would stay the same but it would help motivate us to change our eating habits. Health costs would go down as a consequence. It's a win-win.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Molly Malone said...

i like Citizen's idea.

i agree with your overall concern though, VA Gal: food is a necessity, making it more expensive seems cruel.

i wonder if at least part of the reason people choose processed foods isn't just their conditioning, but because time (to cook) is sparse. if you're working 50 + hours a week, whether that's one or 3 jobs, it's tough to find time to prepare 2 - 3 nutritious meals each day. it may be easier to order pizza every night than fix a veggie-heavy dinner.

if that's the case, then our society needs to take a hard look at how we prioritize our time. it would benefit us in the kitchen and beyond.

also, something i'd like to see more of is people getting back into farming. it could be in the form of community urban gardens, or family farms. but the more i see how far my food travels (asparagus from CHILE??), the more disconcerted i am for various reasons. we're out of touch with the land and i don't imagine it behooves us any.

whew! thanks for lending me the soapbox, Mommanator. who's next?

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Trisha said...

I'll get on that soapbox next!!!
I'm a single mother of 2 girls. I have a certain amount budgeted for groceries per month. Food has gotten more expensive over the past year, so I am really having to stretch my $$s. The bad stuff IS cheaper. It is expensive to eat healthy. I still try to catch sales, cut coupons, and sneak in the fresh fruits, vegetables, etc, and we have given up meat for at least 2 meals per week. I agree...time restraints are also an obstacle to healthy eating. My girls play softball and we are at practice 4-5 times per week, and trying to cook meals at 830 pm when their bedtime is 830 pm is really challenging!
What REALLY bothers me is watching the people who have two baskets of all JUNK food (cases of sodas, Ramen noodles, fresh fruit or veggies) and then pay with it with food stamps....since this is government money being spent, why can't the government dictate that healthy food be bought?

9:41 AM  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Back to gardens? No one has a yard big enough, and very few people even care. (unless you can find some Big Mac seeds).

11:06 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

As long as a bag of macaroni is cheaper than a bag of carrots nutrition will remain off course in the U.S. Hungry people rarely think of the nutrients in food but in filling their empty bellies.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Virginia Gal said...

Mommantor - you said it, we are a mess!

Citizen - oh that is a great idea, just like we tax alcohol we should tax junk food, it would make it more of a luxury than a necessity.

Molly - oh my goodness you have hit on a point about Denmark that I didn't even think of, they definitely have more time to cook hence another reason for healthier choices. Good observation!

Trisha - yes I think you are right the government should set the example by saying those food stamps should be used for healthy food only. As for cutting out meat twice a week, that is actually a good thing I've read in many books, so hats off to you!

Joe - if you could find Big Mac seeds you would be rich!

Brenda - yes that is what bugs the heck out of me, why is a box of macaroni cheaper than a bag of carrots?? I agree with what you are saying.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Darla D said...

You should check out Mark Bittman's new book, Food Matters, that takes the principals of In Defense of Food and not only builds recipes around them, but teaches methods of cooking that are quick and simple and - most importantly - delicious. I got the book for my birthday, and everything we've made so far has been good.

I think one of our problems is the fact that it really doesn't take that long to put together a healthy and relatively cheap meal, particularly if you are following Pollan's advice and not buying tons of meat. But how to get people to realize that? I don't know! :-p

2:14 PM  

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