Thursday, December 07, 2006

Think Globally, Eat Locally

I adore my grandmother and respect her immensely. However...we differ on a few key points. One, she hates cats. She insists that as a young girl she awoke to a cat putting its head in her mouth. There's no use in telling her that the whole "cats steal breath from babies" myth is just that, a myth, but who knows, maybe it really did happen. The point is she turned that event into a lifelong vendetta against cats, creatures for which I have a very strong affinity. And two, she's convinced we're all going to die from salmonella poisoning. When Stella was a toddler my grandmother called me out of the blue one day to berate me for allowing my daughter to eat cookie dough. She likened it to child abuse. "Oh Alannah, all those raw eggs! And with that young delicate immune system!" I brushed it off as the hysterical rantings of a woman who has made a career of worrying about her family. But I'm maybe coming around to her line of thinking.

Michael Pollan (I love this man. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a fascinating read) was interviewed about the latest food scares (E. Coli in spinach, Taco Bell scallions, etc) and offered up some potentially horrifying scenarios. Our food system is fucked. A big part of our country's problem is the centralization of our meat processing and distribution system, something Eric Schlosser (another hero) covered so well in Fast Food Nation. The chicken you buy at the store has already come in contact with hundreds of other chickens from all over, both when it was alive and after slaughter, in its journey to the plastic package in the grocery store. There's no easy way to trace a strain of disease in the food supply. It's because of the Standard American Diet's obsession with meat that we've moved to this centralized assembly line mode of meat preparation. We eat far too much meat so we want it to be cheap and easy. It SHOULD be expensive and more of a luxury. I have no problem paying $10 or more per pound for local organic meats. I don't buy or prepare it that often, which is better healthwise anyway, but when I do, I know where it comes from and trust the source.

My grandmother comes from the era of raising your own food supply. The only meat she will eat is beef, possibly because my great-grandfather and great-uncle were both cattlemen. She's a healthy 81 year-old woman so it might do me good to follow her advice. But I won't ever stop eating raw cookie dough.


5 of 9er said...

How can anyone hate cats? I do agree that cats sit around all day and devise plans to kill you... but they are the best buddies in the world. And if they do kill you, it will be while you're sleeping which is nice.

Alannah said...

Cats - the benevolent killers.

I know quite a few people who don't like cats. I don't get it....

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