Monday, January 14, 2008

Living The Good Life

Yet another book about the ethics of food, (and this one also goes into the ethics of energy, water, and even waste disposal).

In this book, well it is really a diary of a families choice (mama, papa, and one spunky 6 year old boy) to go "money free" for 6 months.

They live in Australia, and so much of the culture, and even some of the language was different than something I would normally run into. Esp being from the wettest part of North America myself, drought often has no reach here. But there, it is becoming an every year problem. In the book you follow this family through their 6 self sustainable months through everything, from eating pumpkin (which they call all squash, from what I gathered... I would hate to think they were eating actual pumpkin all that time) every day for a while to what to feed Possum, their noisy and demanding milk goat.

The book was well written, although some of the language was clearly Aussie, and terribly interesting.

One of my complaints about the book is that I wish that she had gone in more depth about how they did their daily self sustainable things. She talks often about the 5000 kilo tanks she has outside, but does not ever show a picture of them, or where they are on her property. She talks at length about the composting toilet, but again, no picture, or how they put it in, etc. Some of those things would be helpful if they ever were to print a second addition to the book... to help others get used to the idea of that path.

It was nice to read that it took her three years to get ready to do the 6 month project (and in some cases much much longer prep was employed. Trev, her husband, built his own log cabin in the bush and it took 15 years.) So they had some tools. And it was nice to know that not just "everybody" could do it, but that this goal, of getting off the world oil tit, was a long term one... one that even the most prepared had to work at for a while before they could really employ.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

I have just finished the Omnivore's Dilemma. It is an intense book. It is one of those that you really want to read with a highlighter and a pen to write in the margins. lol... I am interested in reading whatever else Micheal Pollan puts out.

Man, the book is SO interesting. Really good information, put out in a way that is matter of fact, and not alarming in the slightest (unless of course, the content is alarming... I think I meant not "alarmist" in the sense that he doesn't go "This is TERRIBLE, look what THEY do....." KWIM?) He goes through four different meals, from as industrial as you can get to as 'natural' as you can get. McDonald's of course, came first. Then Whole Foods industrial organics. Then PolyFace Farms (a sustainable grass/meat farm). Then a meal he hunts, kills, grows or gathers himself.

He follows each one back to the very start of the food chain on which they were formed.

For McDonald's it was industrial grown corn to feed the chickens and the beef (cows are not made to eat corn). It is pretty amazing how much of the fast food is made from corn. You'd never know from eating it, but really, it is all corn fed meat, fried in corn oil, battered in corn starch, corn fats, and salts from corn, with a side of High Fructose Corn Syrup soda. I had some idea, but I just didn't realize how true his most famous quote is: "So that's us; processed corn, walking."

He follows that up with a nice stint on an industrial organic farm. Then moves on to PolyFace, then on to his own hunting/mushroom hunting/gardening experiences.

Fascinating. Just really really interesting stuff.

He makes a point of staying very objective through out the entire book, and sharing his opinions in a language that it is clear he is owning each and every one of them. He doesn't expect you to think the way he does... he just says what HE thinks. It is a nice refresher for those of us who have read "fad" diet books where there is only ONE way to do things (and here is why - and here is the science behind it is on page 452 - and here is why everything else is wrong on page 597... lol.).

The other two books I have right now promise to be lighter, and I am ready. Don said to me the other day that I really need to find something that I can read for pleasure. Something that doesn't give me more to work on and worry about at the end of the day. I said that is what NetFlix is for. lol... he wasn't convinced.