Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Food Is Not Always Life And Death

(This is the post that I meant to put up yesterday.)

So this is how I've been thinking about my food choices lately.

Will that dried milk powder give me cancer?
Will the additives in store-bought mayo harm my body?
Will it shave fifteen years off my life if I eat a lot of grains?

And so on. Having questions like that which are essentially impossible to answer, but which you feel like you need to answer, is a sure recipe for soul-killing anxiety.

I had prayed about this a bit, asking God for continued guidance on my food choices. Then the Home Dairy book that I mentioned before finally came from the library. And on one of the first pages, I read the following line:

"There are small, simple measures you can take to enhance your life while also caring for your family, community, and the larger world."1

It immediately struck me, in that "God is telling me something" way, and I realized that it was the answer to my dilemma. I need to think of my food choices not as life and death choices, but as small enhancements to my life. I'm not picking between poison and great food; I'm picking between good food and great food.

1. The quote was referring to the author's blog, Small Measure.


  1. picking between good poison and great poison? (like the choice between a cookie or 5 slices of bacon.....)

  2. Hey, we had a holiday on Monday, so you can be a day late on your blog :)

    I am reading Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" and I am going to include it in my book reviewing once I am finished. I know you are going more natural in a lot of things lately; have you read the book and if so, what do you think?

  3. I have not read any of his books, but I have read a couple of his articles. I have also read the book Real Food by Nina Planck, which I believe espouses similar ideas to Pollan's.

    My overall impression of his ideas is that he is on to something, but that there are also valid critiques of some (many?) of his claims. Not everything is quite as bad as he would have you believe, and everything is a lot more complicated in general. He's a man on a mission, for sure. And, for the most part, it's a mission that's important. But I think he gets a little... carried away, with his cause.

  4. Yeah. I think that is a good summary :) I don't think I could convert too diehard to that "diet" (a term I know he dislikes, but whatever) although I do think I'll make some effort to try to follow some of the principles (such as eating more local "plants") because it seems a lot healthier. I think your point is good, about food not exactly being life or death. We sort of have a ridiculous amount of luxury in our lives that we can have this food debate at all. :)

  5. If you have a local farmer's market, you should definitely check it out. I generally figure that anything I *can* buy from there, I would prefer to. Some of them even sell beef from local pastured cows; eggs from chickens that are free-range not just in name only; and so on. The raw milk debate is much more interesting. I am thinking of checking out the local natural foods stores to see if they carry the Organic Valley brand milk; there's a website that was rating "organic" milk suppliers, and they gave them high ratings for producing local milk from cows that get to wander around eating grass, instead of the factory-farm-cow model. (Organic Valley is basically a co-op of farms all over the place, so wherever you live, you'll be getting milk from a local farm.)