Monday, March 21, 2011

Omnivores 'R' Us

My family thinks of itself as omnivorous (listen to me, I make us sound like the Borg, don't I). But it's true: we are fairly wide-ranging eaters when it comes to food and we're all pretty adventurous in our own way. I like to think that we're discriminating omnivores but the truth is some of us (read: me) are far more discriminating than others (read: teenager with a taste for fat and sugar).

In my late teens and early twenties I was a rather militant vegetarian. I gave it up after a while, mostly because it was a lot of work being a vegetarian in the 80's. And then there was the lack of dinner invitations from friends who didn't want me giving the gimlet eye to their salmon (yes, sadly, I was that kind of vegetarian). There wasn't the embarrassment of options there is now - I think the soy bean has been turned into more meat-like products than a cow has, even. It was exhausting being a vegetarian in the 80's. We won't even mention the condition of some of the organic vegetables available in the shops. Let's just say I'd rather have eaten dirt than some of those carrots. Thankfully all that has changed, although my militancy still rears its head now and again.

When Michael Pollan's book first came out in adult form (note that this is the Young Reader's Edition) I tried to read it. I even put it on my iPod. But it was no good - I kept falling asleep every time I'd listen/read. Or gaze out to sea. Or wonder what to have for dinner. Distractions. Once I even wondered what a Tofurkey tasted like, at which point I realized that this book and I would have to part ways, because I can't be thinking about Tofurkeys. It's just TOO weird a food item, even for me.

But that was a while ago, and so, when I came across the Young Reader's Edition, I thought I would read it with Max. He'd really liked Three Cups of Tea, and this seemed a compatible transition. We would discuss, well, whatever it is Michael Pollan writes about (remember, I'd only got past the first sentence at that point). So I bought it and read the first chapter. I don't know how it differs from the adult version, but it is so excellent I'm reading it to all three kids.

During lunch.

Just kidding.

Well, no, not really. Sometimes we ARE eating lunch.

No Tofurkeys though.

But seriously, you must read this to your kids. It's not shocking in the way that Food, Inc is but it is distressing, and it will cause you to gasp at the way we've allowed our food to get so doctored. It will also make you feel more than a little sorry for farmers.

Perhaps it will even inspire people to garden more.


Suji said...

Sounds like something I need to read. We eat so unhealthily when hubby's such a drag cooking for 2! Thanks for the reminder!

Heather said...

Thanks for this, Shelia, I didn't know there was a young readers edition. I've put a hold on it at our library so the boys and I can read it together too.

sheila said...

It's an awesome read. We're quite enjoying it.

Erin said...

Looking for this, too. I like Michael Polan, but as I am never quite finished one of his other books, i may never be able to recommend it. his writing is a little dry for me. Barbara Kingsolver needs to write her version of one of his books ;-)"The Awake Reader Edition." Ha.

Samantha said...

I found a couple of his books at the library sale but haven't been able to get into them yet. Thankfully our library has the young readers, I'm sure I'll be able to get into it then! Thanks for the heads up Sheila!

Diane said...

I just read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and Omivore's Dilemma is waiting on my bedside table. Right now reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about eating local. Enjoying it very much.

Kate said...

I have tried tofurkey. Awful. Sent me running back to organic grain-fed REAL turkey.

sheila said...

Kate! Glad to see you're keeping up the end in the Dignified Food Dept. Nothing like a Tofurkey to remind one that some foods were better left in the Idea Dept.