This Omnivore’s Dilemma

Not many people know this about me, but in my younger days I wanted to be a Nutritionist. I absolutely loved learning about food and the different ways what you put into your body could effect your health both inside and out. I say not many people know this about me because – those of you who have intimate and personal knowledge of me know that I have the eating habits of a five year old – most of the time. I have been known to have popcorn and gummy bears for dinner. I have gone weeks without eating any REAL fruit or vegetables. Sugar is my joy. I love fine dining and all of the fatty trimmings that go along with it. I am a paradox when it comes to food. I know what is good for me, but I just don’t do it.

I have tried a few of the “Diet Fads” that American’s are so eager to embrace. A few years ago Byron and I did a month long “Raw Food” cleanse. And cleanse it did. My colon was pristine! We were allowed to eat only fruits and vegetables – nothing processed or cooked – so that left out all dairy, alcohol and sugar. Ugh. I hated every day of it. We also had to drink these nasty shakes with some sort of CLAY in it. Ugh again. I did notice a big difference in my skin, and my weight, but this life style tasted horrible and was far too drastic for me. I also did the Atkins thing for a minute until lack of carbs turned me into a raving bitch who, for the first time in my life, craved apples. I came to the conclusion that any “diet” that forbade fruit in favor of pork rinds was kind of screwy.

Now, I am about 15 pounds over weight and about 40 pages from finishing the incredible book called “ The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, and it seems I have come to my own dilemma. Do I continue to eat meat the way I always have? Or, do I stop? I have seen the film “Food Inc” which sucessfully got me thinking about food, and where it comes from. And I am about to watch the film “Earthlings” and might be humming a different tune in an 1.5 hours. But, until then, my personal dilemma is this: I don’t live in America anymore. High Frutose corn syrup has been banned here. So, thats good. Factory farms don’t exist here the way they do in America. so… off to watch the movie!

Okay, okay, where to begin… Let’s begin here. This post is about food. Period. I have always been opposed to fur, circuses, zoos, rodeos, hunting and pretty much all entertainment where animals are hurt or killed. It is pointless.

Food is not pointless.

The dilemma for the meat eater is: How can I continue to eat meat, when I know what I know? Pollan notes in his book that humans have ALWAYS eaten meat – our teeth are the way they are in order to tear meat, and our stomaches are designed to digest it. So, I don’t have a problem with eating meat, not in its general idea. Many animals kill each other for food. But, humans seem to be the only animals that kill far more than they could possibly need. And not only are we killing more than we can possibly eat, we are feeding these animals food, hormones, and antibiotics that are in turn making us sick. This not only seems backward but it is wrong. And it is our own doing.

I am not one of those people who pretends not to know where my hamburger comes from. I get it. But what I was unaware of was the fact that these animals are being fed CORN.
Cows don’t eat corn, yet American factory farms feed cows corn. And, since the cows don’t like corn, they also get fed antibiotics. Now, does that make sense? No. The reason is that corn makes the cows fat at a faster rate, making it possible to kill more of them. Same with chickens and pigs. We all know about the awful living conditions and the ways in which the animals die, which is why so many people have turned to “organic”. But, sorry to tell you that “organic” cows are still factory cows. Ugh.

I turned to the film “Earthling” for some answers. I was a little more than displeased with the results. The film “Earthling” was a “documentary” about all life forms on earth and how humans are bad. It was more like propaganda. Or a snuff film. It was full of phrases like “… harrowing death march…”, and unbearable scenes of cats, dogs, pigs cows, elephants and more being killed at the hands of humans. Sometimes with undue brutality. I use the word DOCUMENTARY in quotes because this film had a very obvious bias. From the sad music played throughout, to the weepy tone of the narration, I was a bit turned off. At one point they compared the killing of animals to the Jewish in the holocaust. (Seriously!?) My film critique aside, it did bring to vivid color the “slaughterhouse” that Pollan writes about. And, I for one don’t want to eat a chicken that has been sitting in its own poop for three months. I don’t want to eat a cow that is hopped up on antibiotics. And heck, I just feel bad for the pig that doesn’t get to root its oinker in the dirt and gets his tail cut off.

So, the dilemma rears its ugly head. What does a thinking, feeling person do? Well, if I was still living in america I think I might seriously consider being a vegetarian. Aside from the facts stated above, I absolutely HATE the fact that about 2-4 HUGE companies own ALL OF THE FOOD IN AMERICA. That is from meat to produce. Its the best reason I can think of to start a garden or shop at farmers markets. And. the meat production is the worst offenders as far as “fucked up stuff happening to your food” is concerned.”

But here I am living in the CZ. I eat some meat. That is to say, I don’t eat meat at every meal, and not even every day. I like a burger now and again, and I enjoy some deli meats. But, as my man Emmerson once said, “You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.” I know that meat production in THIS country is not as it is in America, I just don’t know exactly how different it is. I don’t know if they feed cows corn here, or put thousands of chickens all together. I DO know that the bastard hands of MONSANTO have a plant here, and that worries me.

My wish is for more places that respect animals, places like Polyface Farm. A family operation that raises all natural meat and eggs by using the power and nature of the animals themselves. It’s pretty amazing, and I bet tasty. And I wouldn’t feel bad for one second eating a chicken that was free of drugs, hung out outside its whole life and helped fertilize grass along the way. I think that is the point. We have taken our “food” so far away from nature that we have a huge disconnect. We eat in the car, in front of the TV, when we are not hungry. For me, being a conscious eater has to be the first step. Once I stop consuming more than my share then I will feel better about what I do purchase, wether it be meat, potatoes or gummy bears.

But for now, I am not altogether swayed to give up meat. I will adopt a healthier diet. When I visit the U.S. in a few weeks I will be a big old salad consumer, but I will still eat meat. Thats just the way this little cookie crumbles.


3 thoughts on “This Omnivore’s Dilemma

  1. Actually factory farms here are pretty similar to the ones in America, they are not as big, we stuff animals with antibiotics and do all the nasty shit. The same with chicken, we have tens of thousands if not even hundreds of thousands crammed in tiny cages in one big hall…So I guess if you want to avoid this, the best way is to befriend somebody in a country side who has animals on their own :-)Btw. Pollan is wrong with his "people have been always eating meat" – before they had tools for hunting they were unable to get meat on their own, people started eating carcass leftovers that predators didn't want anymore and the biggest meat-eating boom came in ice age.- Petra

  2. Michael Pollan is my hero! His ability to educate Americans about our utterly dysfunctional food culture in a fun and entertaining way makes him so much fun to read. After finishing "An Omnivore's Dilemma" I just wanted to rush back to the Czech Republic and have some Czechs teach me to forage properly for mushrooms. Here's a blog post I wrote inspired in part by Pollan. Yea, for you and your interest in nutrition. I'm enjoying your blog!

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