Poetry just broke bad.
Poetry just broke bad.
In my blog series on Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma I digested the book, with an emphasis on the Christian perspective, as reader who is not an expert on nutrition, the environment, the economy, or agriculture.
Like Pollan, I also went on my own food adventure. Mimicking his journey, I also decided to meditate on eating an industrial meal, a supermarket meal, a locally organic natural meal, and a wild meal. I tried to mimic his as much as possible, but I didn’t have the time or the budget to match his precision with all four meals. I tried, and for purpose of reflection and comparison. There’s no point in reading a non-fiction book unless we incorporate it into action, and this sequence is the beginning of my action.
For his birthday we will sit at a picnic table under a lone tree burning in the desert, a heraldic tree the passing storm had left afire, a solitary pilgrim drawn upon before it traveled far and knelt in the hot sand and held its numbered hands out while all about in that circle.
I’d like to make him a birthday cake like a bloodstained stone, the marks of steel upon it, his name carved in the corrisible lime among stone fishes and ancient shells, with a serrated horizon of the Cascade Range stenciling a purple jag-toothed saw blade before the incadnadine residue of a sun recently gone to its reward. Things dimmed and dimming. The dry sea floor. The tools of migrant hunters.
I would light a candle and have him make a wish of the dreams of some world that never was or some world that never will be, encased upon the blades of men.
I would wrap his present with wrapping paper decorated with small owls that crouch silently and stand from foot to food and tarantulas and solpugas and vinegarroons and the vicious mygale spiders and beaded lizards with mouths black as chowdog’s, deadly to man, and the little desert basilisks that jet blood from their eyes and the small sandvipers like seemly gods, silent and same.
He would tear his present open and find the peregrine bones of a prophet. And silence. And the gradual extinction of rain. And the coming of night.
Happy Birthday, Cormac!
[all language above is taken directly from or adapted from the works of Cormac McCarthy. They are not my words. Except for the “happy birthday” part.]
A Digest of The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 6: Resolving Our Food Dilemmas
“What is the perfect meal, anyway?”
“The blessing of the omnivore is that he can eat a great many different things in nature. The curse of the omnivore is that when it comes to figuring out which of those things are safe to eat, he’s pretty much on his own.” -M.P.
Humans are able to eat so many things, and yet so much that we eat (or can eat) is also harmful. We have natural instincts that keep us from dying, like taste, disgust, and the feeling of a full belly. But we also like to refuse to listen to our body, or our mind.
A Digest of The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 5: Eating Animals
“Should People Eat Tasty Animals?”
“Every good hunter is uneasy in the depths of his conscience when faced with the death he is about to inflict on the enchanging animal.” -Ortega y Gasset
For his book’s journey Pollan ate (and explored) a McD’s meal, a supermarket “organic” meal, and then a local, organic, sustainably farmed meal. His final meal requires two hunts: One hunt for fungi, and another hunt for pig. I learned a whole lot about fungi, but what I mostly want to talk about is the hunting of animals.
I’ve never killed a mammal for food. I’ve know many who have, and have tasted of what they killed. I even once ate a deer hit by a truck (thanks to my friend T-Dogg). When I was little my dad took me hunting but I didn’t have the patience for it. The same went for fishing, although I remember chopping the heads off a couple fish before my dad cleaned them. I’ve always wanted to go through the experience of hunting just once. It fascinates me now. In one way because of the art and poetry of going off into the woods and hunting for food, being alone, accomplishing the hunt, performing an activity older than buying cooking. Another way it fascinates me is the almost sadistic attitude some hunters have, and how some people hypocritically look down on hunting yet eat meat that is killed in less authentic ways than hunting.
A Digest of The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 4: Big Organic and the Supermarket Pastoral
“The Proof is in the Organic, Natural Flavor, No-Preservatives-Added, Corn-Syrup-Free Pudding”
“Organic.” “Natural.” “Sustainable.” “Free range.” “Vegan.” “Gluten Free.” “Diabetic friendly.” “No preservatives.” “Low Carb.” “Contains no added elements.” “Kid tested; mother approved.” Lots of labels out there these days that are specialized. What do they mean, and can we trust them?
A Digest of The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 3: Polyface Farm
“All Flesh is Grass”
“Mother earth never attempts to farm without live stock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve the soil and to prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste; the processes of growth and the processes of decay balance one another; the greatest care is taken to store the rainfall; both plants and animals are left to protect themselves against disease.” —Albert Howard, An Agricultural Testament
A Digest of The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 2: The Feedlot, Grocery Store, and the McD’s
“We’re Not in Kansas Anymore”
“Processed food has become largely a supply-driven business—the business of figuring out clever ways to package and market the glut of commodities coming off the farm and out of the wet mills[..]The underlying reductionist premise—that food is nothing more than the sum of its nutrients—remains undisturbed.”—Michael Pollan
The Cow Factory
It’s not a secret to anybody that most of the beef you buy at grocery stores is from cows squeezed into CAFOs—Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. That’s not new information. It’s just that we’re not reminded of it enough, and when we are, it’s still a distant fact. It’s also not usually woven into a story and set against a more natural story of raising animals.
A Digest of The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 1: Corn-flation
“We’ll Forget the Sun, as We Walk in Fields of Gold”
The Industrial Meal
I learned more about corn from this book than I ever thought I would. When I was in 5th grade, an old woman came to my school as a scholastic performer, playing a banjo and singing about corn:
Corn, corn, sing about corn
It’s a tasty treat
Corn, corn, sing about corn
It’s so good to eat
“Whatever native wisdom we may have once possessed about eating has been replaced by confusion and anxiety[…we are] a notably unhealthy people obsessed with the idea of eating healthy.” –Michael Pollan
This is my first “foodie” book. Oh, and really, why do people use the word “foodie”? We should start calling people who don’t smoke “oxygenies”, and people who try to dress modestly “clothesies”.