I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately. This is partly because I’ve been on a diet, partly because of the whole e. coli/spinach fiasco, and partly because of a fabulous book I recently finished: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
When Omnivore’s Dilemma was released in April 2006, I snatched it up at the bookstore. I’ve read two other Michael Pollan books (including The Botany of Desire, probably my favorite non-fiction book) and knew that I’d want to read this one. It sat in a stack of “to-be-read” books for months, though.
I had planned to take it on a grand road trip vacation with my sister and mother last July, but the chance to go to India for work conflicted with the road trip idea, so the book and I didn’t travel together this summer. It’s a 1.5 lb hard cover book, so it’s not the kind of thing I take with me during my daily commute or during business trips, either. Finally, about 6 weeks ago I couldn’t wait any longer and started reading the book at home in the evenings. (This meant less knitting time, but so be it.)
Wow, it was just as fabulous as I thought it would be: intriguing, enlightening, and totally eye-opening.
The first section on the industrial scale prodution of our food — possible due to the heavily subsidized abundance of corn (Zea mays) — really floored me. I’ve always been one those shoppers that reads labels in the grocery store, but I never realized just how many of the ingredients in processed foods come from corn.
About a week into the book, the e.coli/spinach event happened. By that time, I’d already been reading the second section of the book that looks at organic and sustainable agricultural practices (sadly, they aren’t necessarily the same thing.) The timing was incredible and I found myself using the word “prescient” a lot when referring to the book and it’s writer, Michael Pollan. I wasn’t the only one making a connection to the book and the event. Michael Pollan was interviewed on NPR, Omnivore’s Dilemma was noted in several press articles, and the farmer whom is featured very prominantly in the second section, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, was interviewed on On Point (which you can find through iTunes, as well).
I can’t recommend enough that everyone read this book to get some much-needed perspective on our food system.
As for the dieting, I started on the Seattle Sutton plan about a month ago. I’ve thinking about doing this for nearly a year. I rarely can make the time to cook anymore, and had found that nearly every meal I ate was take out or a frozen dinner. I know that’s not very healthy. Over the summer, it seemed that I just suddenly gained weight. I found that in July I couldn’t comfortably wear any of the clothing that I had bought just 3 months before. Some if this had to do with the SSRI I was taking, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was also making poor food choices.
I don’t own a scale, so I can’t say how many pounds I’ve lost. But I can say that my clothes are fitting a bit more loosely, and I’m going to keep this up for a while.
I stopped the SSRI, too. I had received no warning from my doctor that one of the side effects is weight gain. This just pissed me off, frankly. Oh, just what you need when you’re feeling down: to get fat! I’m now taking 5HTP and getting started on some St. John’s Wort, too. Those supplements, the new diet, and doing more walking seem to be working just fine for my mood.