Jul 26, 2010

no more big macs, for real

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...


  1. I've been tossing around this idea in my head lately too...if I can only get some sunlight reaching places in the backyard, I might can get started. For now, I have a neighbor who does some organic gardening (i.e. all the tomatoes I could eat) and if I ever get around to my own garden, that would just be a bonus! I can't wait to hear how this goes. I'll be taking baby steps:)

  2. Good for you Jessica. Jacob and I have really changed our eating habits (he's read Omnivore's Dilemma - you should also check out the DVD: Food, Inc.) We buy local produce from the famer's market and have been making Jack's food from organic produce. We also have cut out most processed foods. I make oatmeal or whole grain cereal in the mornings and we make simple dinners from fresh ingredients. We're still eating meat, though I haven't read the book.

    One more plug: Jake has a garden and it's been great. The best thing he did was plant a salad mix. That's what really revolutionized our eating habits as we could just walk outside and grab a mixed green salad :) Tomatoes and broccoli were also well worth the effort!

  3. Courtney, thanks for salad tip! That sounds great! I would like to cut out most of the processed stuff too. I'm not sure if this is just in my head, but I think changing how we eat will make us feel better in general. I am so over being tired and sniffly all the time.

  4. fabulous! "omnivore's dilemma" is on my reading list, along with "the kind diet" by alicia silverstone (yes, from clueless- she is a vegan). i haven't eaten beef or pork since 2002... but i haven't managed to give up poultry or fish.

    if you haven't yet, come on over to my side of town and check out earthfare. they have oodles of great organic stuff and have a policy of not selling items made with a whole list of icky ingredients (high fructose corn syrup being one example). it is refreshing to not have to check the labels on everything!

    good luck and post some successful recipes for the rest of us to sample!


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