Monday, November 28, 2011

Food for Thought Part II

Last time I talked about how our food supply chain has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so, and why this should be a matter of concern to us. It’s very ironic that while the large food producing companies are becoming more efficient and profitable, we are becoming sick more often from food-related illnesses. In a study funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, it was found that in 2010, there were 76 million food-related illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. The money cost to the U.S. was about $152 billion a year, or roughly $1,850 each time someone gets sick from food, I think we need to develop more awareness around these issues and take small but practical steps at the individual level, so that collectively we can start to make a difference. We have to be aware of what the food does to us, what it does to the environment, and whether humane labor and animal practices were followed.
In terms of reading material, you can find works from some leading thinkers on this topic at or your local library. These include:
Michael Pollan:

1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

2. The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat

3. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

4. Food Rules: An Eater's Manual
Eric Schlosser:

1. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

2. Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food
Gary Hirshberg:

1. Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World

2. Anything But Neutral About Going (Carbon) Neutral
Incidentally, Gary Hirshberg runs Stonyfield farms that makes dairy products that are wholesome in every way ( The company is very successful, showing that you can do well by doing good.
You can also find a number of related videos on this topic. Some of them are:

1. Forks Over Knives

2. Food Matters

3. King Corn: You Are What You Eat

4. Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution

5. Food, Inc.

At home, here are some steps you can take on an everyday level. In the supermarket see if you can buy organic foods (may be a little more pricey), avoid canned and heavily packaged foods, take your own bags to cut down on plastic, check labels, buy foods that are in season locally (a good way to do this is to see if there are any local farmers’ markets in your area), and plan your shopping to reduce the number of driving trips to the supermarket.


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