Archive for the ‘food policy’ Category

Anastacia Marx de Salcedo has this to say about Annie’s Homegrown Macaroni and Cheese. She also has the best name ever.

In summary: WTF, hipsters? Don’t you read ingredient labels? Are you naive enough to think that “all natural” has any meaning in the food industry? Because, um, it doesn’t. Processed food with happy bunnies on the box is still processed food. Which means it’s probably bad for you. It is not difficult to make killer homemade mac and cheese. I’ve done it drunk at 2 am – that means it must be easy. I don’t care how convenient powdered crap in a box is, it can’t be good for you. I’m fine with ramen noodles – I’ve eaten them many a time. But never have I ever thought that they were in any way wholesome or nutritious.

I think the most insidious thing about nutritionism (again, please go read your Pollan: it’s good for you, and goes down easy) is not that it is reductionist, but that it creates the illusion that the food industry knows more about what’s good for you than you do. Granted, we’re quickly forgetting what to eat, but it’s a circular problem, no? In buying processed, packaged foods, the closest we can come to understanding our diet is reading the fine print on the box, which is not at all the same as making a conscious decision about what ingredients to put into this night’s meal.

Someone on Metafilter left a comment on the Pollan thread talking about their hypothetical one-page diet book called You Fucking Know What You Should Eat. I’m about halfway through Marion Nestle’s What to Eat, and I think she probably could have gotten away with the now-rendered-anonymous-Metafilter-user’s suggestion. Isn’t it all common sense? She starts off with her standard sensible Nestle advice, “Eat less, move more, eat lots of fruit and vegetables…go easy on junk foods,” then spends a mighty heavy 600 pages elaborating on it. I feel like this is unnecessary. I like reading about food and nutrition, so I’m fine with paging through this tome. But it must seem daunting to the average consumer, a book entitles What to Eat that is, literally, two inches thick. Am I being naive in thinking that people really do know that, beyond all of the faddish diets and nutrients, processed food isn’t as good for them as fresh food? Am I?

If that’s true, then the solution to our ills lies not so much in nutrition education as it does in decimating food advertising (particularly to children) and eliminating subsidies on processed foods and thier precursors. Not like that will ever happen. But if people are given the opportunity (both economically and psychologically) to reclaim the wealth of nutritional knowledge that resides in their families and communities, I think the health of the country will improve dramatically.

I’ve been getting so much closer to my food the past few years. I sincerely feel that when people do this, they will recognize the difference between Annie’s “Homegrown” crap-in-a-box and something real, something fresh, something they’ve made themselves.


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Raw Milk


half-gallon from shetler dairy


Kate over at the Accidental Hedonist had a post last week discussing a Salon article about raw milk. It’s pretty basic and introductory, but seems to grasp the complexity of the issue quite well. In a nutshell: no, not all raw milk is safe, but unpasteurized milk from grass-fed cows processed in a sterile environment can be safe, and can have greater nutritional value than industrially-produced pasteurized milk. Thank you.

I don’t drink raw milk. Not because I think it’s unsafe, but because I’m pretty much broke all the time, raw milk is fairly expensive, and my local cow-share program would require that I take a gallon of milk home every week. There’s no way we could go through that much dairy. It also helps that John is in the habit of sterilizing everything he touches with Lysol– I imagine he might be more than a little bit taken aback by the idea of not pasteurizing the milk on his cereal.

To clarify, the sale of raw milk is illegal in Michigan. Like, really illegal. In 1948 we were the first state in the union to outlaw the stuff, and ever since, we’ve been happily flash-heating low quality milk so that it lasts longer on our shelves and we can tell ourselves it’s cleaner. To circumvent this law, crafty folks have started cow-shares, organizing groups of people to buy “shares” in a cow. You see, it’s perfectly legal to drink raw milk from your own cow – you just can’t buy it. So, each week, one member of the cow-share will drive to the farm, pick up gallons and gallons of fresh milk, and transport it to a pickup location. The downside, as I mentioned, is that you have to take a gallon of milk home every week. That’s a lot of milk for two people. Another downside is that the Michigan authorities aren’t too keen on the idea of cow-shares, and just a few months ago a farmer was “busted” (yeah, like in a drug raid) because he didn’t follow regulations to the letter.

So we don’t buy the raw stuff. When I finally collapsed back into the arms of my long lost dairy, John and I drank Horizon Organic milk, until I read it wasn’t, um, organic. Fortunately, about six months ago my parents purchased some property two hours north of us, in Grayling. It’s a pretty little town on the AuSable River, home to Goodale’s Bakery, which happens to sell milk from the Shetler Family Dairy. While it is pasteurized, it’s non-homogenized, hormone and antibiotic free, and from grass-fed cows. It even comes in cute reusable glass bottles. My parents go up there at least every other week, and come back home with delicious quasi-local milk. I make yogurt with it once or twice a week, and some time I’ll make paneer with it, when I get around to it. I’m not one to claim organic food tastes better than conventional (because really, it doesn’t), but this milk tastes better than any national brand junk I’ve had. Ounce-for-ounce, it’s no cheaper than raw milk, but I can buy as little as I want to, I don’t have to come up with a slideshow presentation to convince John of its healthy attributes, and best of all, I don’t have to feel like I’m in league with those nutjobs over at the Weston Price Foundation (shiver).

Someday, though, when I have more money and more people to feed (or more uses for milk during any given week) I imagine I’ll make the switch.

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