Monday, November 21, 2011

Do you know where your food comes from?

I have been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Wow, what a wake up call! This book has definitely opened my eyes to many issues within the current industrialised food system that I was not aware of.

The book is written based on the current American food system and I wonder how transferable the examples are to Australia, but definitely food for thought and still worth the read. It seems that much of the American food system is based on cheap corn, for example, and I don't know how much corn we produce here in Australia and whether it is as heavily subsidised as in America. Certainly products and ingredients that come from America and sold here in Australia will reflect the systems described in the book, but I don't know about our meat production and how heavily it relies on corn on its "raw" material or alternatively whether there is some other "raw" material (perhaps wheat) here in Australia that is just as heavily relied upon and subsidised as corn is described in the book.

One part of the book that left me gob-smacked, was Michael description of "organic beef". Due to marketing and my own pre-conceived ideas, my understanding was organic beef came from cattle roaming freely on green grassy pastures and spending an idyllic life as a cow should, until slaughtered and ending up on my plate, but Michael describes in the book that there is some organic beef (in America) that is now is produced in exactly the same way as traditional meat, being initially grass fed and then off to feedlot. The only difference being that the organic meat gets fed organic corn based food within the same feedlot situation and the cattle is not fed "enhanced" food that has antibiotics. The later, in fact, potentially results in less healthy animals, because of the likelihood of disease that results from being within a feedlot situation and being given food that isn't necessarily great for them. This completely did my head in! Have to check out how my local organic meat is produced now!

If you're not into reading, you catch watch the Food Inc dvd, it covers the topics described in Michael Pollan's book and shows Joel Salatin's farm, as an example of a non-industrialised food system working in America. 

Great read and fascinating watch! A definite read to peel back the layers of anonymity in our food systems.

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