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Another book: more on food

While industrial agriculture has made tremendous strides in coaxing macronutrients - calories - from the land, it is becoming increasingly clear that these gains in food quantity have come at a cost to its quality. This probably shouldn't surprise us: Our food system has long devoted its energies to increasing yields and selling food as cheaply as possible. It would be too much to hope those goals could be achieved without sacrificing at least some of the nuturitional quality of our food....To put this in more concrete terms, you now have to eat three apples to get the same amount of iron as you would have gotten from a single 1940 apple, and you'd have to eat several more slices of bread to get your recommended daily allowance of zinc than you would have a century ago. From In Defense of Food - An Eater's Manifesto, (pg. 118) by Michael Pollan.

I went to my local bookshop to pick up The Omnivore's Dilemma, but somehow came home with this one instead. I'm reading it. Sure glad I am. A continuance on the path to better health and a better earth. As I keep hearing, I vote each time I eat, and I surely don't want to vote for apples with less nutrition. So far in my reading, I don't think Pollan has clarified if he is referring to organic apples in either the present day or 1940, but he does talk about organic food being nutritionally superior to their commercial counterparts.

So I'm glad I have alternatives. If I can grow my own or at least buy locally...shake the hand that grew it, as Pollan talks about, I can make a dent in this quantity over quality problem. I feel like many people are in the same place I am on this, like we are all a bunch of dots that need connecting. There are some connections, but I'm talking MAINSTREAM connectedness, where eating locally and organically is normal and not the sideshow. So many people don't seem to know anything about nutrition and that sugar, for example, is not good for you.

Speaking of sugar, in Hawaii, I've learned that there are only 2 sugar plantations left in all the islands, and soon there will be only one. ONE! Very little sugar from Hawaii. It takes 3 feet of a sugar cane to make one teaspoon of our lovely morning coffee sugar....why are the sugar plantations going away? My one guess would be my least favorite ingredient. The ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is so cheap and easier to make (I'm guessing) that sugar is being replaced by it and there is less demand for it, at least in U.S. ...I'm told that Coke is made with sugar still in other countries, but not in the U.S. Sugar is too expensive! Well at one teaspoon for 3 feet of sugar cane, no wonder, but cutting costs while our health is suffering and healthcare costs are sky high, well, that sounds like just more vicious circles to me. Where and how does it end? Again, these lonely dots need connecting...

So no, sugar is not really good for us to eat, at least not too much of, but compared to HFCS, at least in my opinion, the occasional teaspoonful (or two, or three) still works for me. Although, I have to admit, I use agave to sweeten my morning coffee (smile).



Anonymous said...

Hi Genny,
This is all so interesting. Thank you for sharing your research. The story of the apple today vs. an apple in 1940 scares me, a lot. You are right, the dots need connecting, and all this information and thinking needs to become mainstream.

kyndale said...

I love learning about this. I am reading Omnivore's Dilemma by Pollan. I wish everyone could read this book, or anything similar. I took an agriculture class when I was getting my degree in Geography and now, alot of sugar comes from sugar beets. I think that's why all the sugar cane farms are changing crops. I'll have to look into it more.

Beegirl said...

Thanks so much for your lovely little bee story over at the "Burbs". Brought such a smile to my face. The bees were getting in the neighbors pool a few years back and they would rescue them with the pool floats. I leave water out for them, but they still seem to find their way to other sources.

Lovely post. Like you, I am weeding the HFCS out of the pantry. Hard to do! It is in everything.. small steps.. Like kyndale above, I think most of the sugar we buy is beet sugar. Only reason I know is because I look on the bag for the bees when we feed them in the spring.

leaning apple mama said...

hi genny...i never put my name out there because i assumed most people that read my blog were my family...and up until you asked i never gave it another thought!! my name is pennie!! and...as for the felting...i have never felted something after i have knit or crocheted it. i have only done needle felting or wet felting...so i can't really suggest any books.

p.s. i could sit around and chat all day about food and what we eat and why and why we shouldn't eat this...it is such an important topic and i love reading other people's journey into real eating!!! take care...

nicola said...

i have heard this one is good!
i am finally listening to animal vegetable miracle on CD.

gardenmama said...

Hi Genny!
I really enjoyed reading your post! I am happy to hear your thoughts on this topic and how you are responding to it. This is a topic held close to my heart too. Your information about sugar was fascinating and of course sad... I agree we need to connect these dots.