The Omnivore's Dilemma

I've been reading this book for a few weeks and after a slow start because of our trip to Mammoth and crazy work days, finally I have had the time to really devour it. Part of me doesn't want to share any of the info because I'd like for each and every one of you to read it yourself. But then the other part of me is brimming at the top to talk talk talk. And the last part of me, yes, I have 3 parts. The last part of me is afraid you won't read the book, so then I have no choice but to highlight parts for you. This book rec was from my friend Freya and I have to say, quite compelling. Quite sad and depressing too. I asked her what she did when she finished the book and she replied jokingly, "curled up in a ball and cried." I kind of get that now.

I am not nearly done, not even half way. But just finished the first part. Wow. There is so much that I had no idea about. I feel so ignorant. But I feel better knowing that I am educating myself little by little. I feel confident that when the need comes, I may be able to figure out how to actually feed my family the way it was intended. That's right, I honestly look forward to the day when we have no supermarkets and our land, farm and ranch is what we depend on for food.

Just a few lightbulb moments for me that I will try to briefly touch on:

There is a whole section on just corn. Because you know corn is king. Sorry for all you midwesterners as I bash that to pieces. But it's killing us. I had no idea that it costs MORE money to grow corn than what it is sold for. You would think that if something is more expensive to make than sell, well, you'd stop making it right? Nope. I won't go into why they continue to produce it, because you'll have to read that for yourself. Corn and soybeans are the only foods grown in the farm states of middle America. One of the reasons has to do with fertilizer. I had no idea the background of chemical fertilizers. All I knew is that we didn't want chemical fertilizers helping out my grass and my little backyard garden. But I had no idea why. Well I learned that after World War II the military had a ridiculous amount of leftover ammonium nitrate they had to get rid of. What could be done with this poison? It was figured out that it can infuse nitrogen into the soil, thus fertilizing it like livestock used to do. So in the 50s chemical fertilizers arrived and then there was no need for livestock on the farms. So no more animals. So you had no choice but to use chemical fertilizers because you had no more animals to fertilize the soil. Makes sense.

Unfortunately I also had no idea how dangerous for all those cities surrounding these states like Iowa. There are actually months every year that warnings go out where they inform everyone not to drink from the tap. Because all that chemical fertilizer comes down the Mississippi and run offs and into the soil and wells and ends up polluting their drinking water. So sad. Where does it go after the Mississippi River? The Gulf of Mexico where an 8,000 square mile floating zone of runoff resides, where nothing can live in this zone but algae. Again, so sad.

I always grew up knowing due to our faith that we are destroying the earth. But to this extent, wow. Back to corn. America produces too much of it, so they had to find uses for this mountainous pile of corn. Thus came all the corn varieties, processed foods, ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, there's literally hundreds of ingredients derived from corn because there just is too much of it. And we can only consume so much right?

Enough corn talk. The last thing that was a light bulb moment for me last night was when I read about cows. As I sat there explaining it to Aaron he looked at me like, where have YOU been? I guess I just never connected the dots. You know we all, well, not all of us, but a lot of us try to eat meat without antibiotics and hormones? Right, the whole puss in the milk story remember? Well, that's not the only reason. On feedlots, usually in Kansas and surrounding areas, their job is to fatten cattle for slaughtering. A hundred years ago it used to take 4-5 years to get an animal fattened up to slaughter, 50 years ago it took 2-3 years. Now, it can be done in 14-16 months. How in the world?! They feed them a diet that they weren't created to eat. Corn. Okay, maybe I'm back to corn a little bit. Corn is a very good food to fatten animals up quickly. And about 14-16 months is really all they can stand of this diet before it kills them. The book has a ton of info as to why they can't eat corn and what it does to them, but you'll have to read that. The thing about feeding cows corn is that it gives their meat marbling. Marbling is what people look for in their meat, we've actually become accustomed to the taste and like the way marbling tastes. Well, here's the light bulb moment for me. If you feed a cow a food that causes them to become obese quite quickly, and then we consume that meat, guess what? Yeah, see! The light bulb.

I said that was the last thing, but there's one more. It just makes such perfect sense to me now. I have to share. You know sometimes we get sick and an antibiotic doesn't always work well? Sometimes you have to be given a second, or a third even? Well, if you are consuming meat that is not antibiotic free that means that a healthy cow is given antibiotics automatically with his feed every single day. They have to do this because the feed gets cows so sick because they weren't made to eat anything but grass. Well healthy cows eat the antibiotics, sometimes they still get sick anyways, but either way you now are consuming that meat with the antibiotics, and guess what, those antibiotics that you take the next time, they just don't work as well anymore because you've already consumed them in your healthy body when you've eaten your meat. Ding ding ding! Light bulb.

It's all connected. It all matters to our health, our bodies. I have heard so many times that it's expensive to eat healthy, and it's true. But come to think about it, if I couldn't afford meat that wasn't antibiotic free I don't think there is anything wrong with not eating meat at all. I didn't eat red meat for over 12 years, and it wouldn't be the end of the world if that happened again. But for us right now we can eat meat that is antibiotic free, so it isn't an issue. Maybe one day it will be an issue and our family will stop eating red meat. I don't have any moral problems with eating meat, but we're talking from a financial standpoint. My point is, I don't think cost should be the reason we are killing ourselves. I am working on a little post about groceries for my family, and what it costs to feed my five. Hoping I can finish it up this weekend.

So there you have some highlights that stood out to me. If you read the book other things may knock you off your feet, but for me, these were them. As I read the book, I may share more information or if I get hate emails, I may not. :) Either way, it's enlightening to me, and I truly get that man can most definitely not take care of this earth on their own.