When I was in my last trimester with Cara, all I wanted to eat were Big Macs. I know; they're disgustingly greasy, calorie-laden, and nutritionally deficient. But, anyone who has been in a last trimester understands that you eat what you want and nothing else. I knew that I couldn't support my Big Mac habit after my alien abandoned ship, so I had the good-bye Big Mac a few days before Cara was born. I have been so good...not one Big Mac since.
However, I just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and I'm beginning to have a little Big Mac guilt and regret. I have never been one to obsess over animal rights or the environment. I don't even recycle. Where is my sense of responsibility and awareness?? Honestly, I think that my lack of concern stems from an ignorance of action. I knew that the beef and chicken in a typical grocery store had been treated with antibiotics and hormones, but I didn't exactly know what to do about it. I also knew about the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides on produce, but again, I didn't know what to do about it. I also didn't know exactly how bad those chemicals are for us. I have played around with the idea of going organic before, but it is VERY expensive and I didn't have anything to make me feel committed.
If you haven't read The Omnivore's Dilemma, I won't spoil it for you. What I will say is that I thought I wouldn't make it through a non-fiction, scientific type of book, but Pollan is a story teller. He describes how he followed four meals from the ground to the table: a McDonalds meal, a typical organic meal, a local meal, and a meal he hunted and gathered himself. I expected the industrial McDonalds meal to be produced using questionable methods, but I didn't realize how questionable or unsustainable or disgusting or inhumane those methods would be, methods that will have real consequences for the economy, the environment, and public health. Pollan also hashes out the ethics of eating animals, and his arguments opened my eyes to why someone would make the choice not to eat meat. I also feel like I could justify why I will continue to eat meat.
At the end of the book, I felt called to act. My reasons are quite selfish: I want to protect and take care of my family. I guess my sense of social, economic, and environmental responsibility is growing, but it really comes down to what mamas do. Mamas care for their families. Just a tiny bit of googling later, and I have found a farmers' market that sells local produce, essentially straight from the farmers, and pastured beef, pork, and poultry.
I understand that eating locally and organically will require more work on my part. More selective shopping, more preparing, and more cooking. I suspect that I will have my hubby building a garden in the backyard as soon as the temperature dips below 100 degrees (legumes in the fall to get the soil ready for the good stuff!). What better reward is there than a happy, healthy child?
So I guess this is point where I say good-bye not only to Big Macs, but to most of the industrial food system. It's a grand experiment. Updates to follow...