August 11, 2008

Thinking About Eco-Eating after a Michael Pollan Lecture

This post strays a bit off topic.  But if we are what we eat—if what we put into our bodies eventually affects our skin, hair and nails—then I'm not wandering too far.

Friday evening, a foodie friend and I sojourned to Long Island City, Queens (just across the East River from Manhattan) to hear a standing-room-only talk by food writer-superstar Michael Pollan.

I've been interested in nutrition and healthy eating as long as I have cosmetics, and have followed Pollan's work since reading an excerpt from his recent book
, In Defense of Food, in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

A professor of journalism at UC Berkeley, Pollan advocates via prolific research for eating locally (e.g. from farmers' markets) and organically. 
Here's why:

  • Local food has a lower carbon footprint.  Lettuce voyaging from Salinas, California to a Whole Foods in New York uses significantly more gas than lettuce traveling from a Long Island farm to that same Whole Foods.  Industrial beef farms generate obscene amounts of manure that, instead of fertilizing grass as nature intended, release pollution-causing methane into the air.  (Buy grass-fed beef, which has been found to contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids!)
  • Organic produce is thought to be more nutrient-rich than its conventionally grown counterparts.  Scientists theorize that when produce is sprayed with pesticide/herbicide/insecticide, it becomes "lazy."  Organic fruits and vegetables have to fight harder to survive and thus produces more protective antioxidants. 
  • Organic farming prevents tons of fertilizer from polluting waterways and killing marine life.  Earlier this summer, I came across one of many recent articles about how fertilizer runoff from Midwestern farms causes the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Buying "free-range" meat from a local farmer doesn't support industrial farms or CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)—where animals are packed almost on top of each other, standing in their own excrement, without access to the outdoors.  In these conditions, the distressed animals become sick and are pumped with antibiotics to strengthen their immune systems.  We then ingest these antibiotics, which is thought to cause the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that scientists are discovering. 
Some important things to think about.  Thank you for letting me proselytize!


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.