Sustainable Food Thread

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Finnegans Wake:
I wanted to give the subject of what we eat and whether it's healthful a separate thread from weight loss, so that thread won't get overrun.  This has been a hot topic for me personally over the past 6-12 months, so I hope it's helpful to folks out there.  If not, I'll un-pin it.  I'll add a few things every once in a while.

 

Finnegans Wake:
Eat Wild is a great site for sourcing your own beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and eggs.  You can also find some off-the-wall stuff like rabbits, for instance, but I assume anyone interested is mostly looking for the basics.  Some very informative articles on things like pastured beef (basically, grass-fed beef is very healthy in its omega 3 levels and CLA).  

Local Harvest is an excellent way to source seasonal produce at farmer's markets, farms, and CSAs.  We feasted on all kinds of farm and farmer's market produce this summer, and we signed on for a prorated share of a CSA near us for 6 weeks (now through Thanksgiving, basically).  Figure if the end of season boxes are good, we'll commit to a full season next year.  A friend gets her stuff from the CSA we're signed on with and loves their stuff.  First pickup is this Wednesday.

I'll have more details later...

otismalibu:
Pussy & Doritos.

What else do ya need?

Finnegans Wake:
Any discussion of how to select what to eat must begin with What should I eat?

A growing body of study is showing that dietary fat is not the bogeyman it has been portrayed as over the past half century.  This isn't exactly the Atkins view, IMO; the difference is that in cultures that do feature fats more prominently (e.g., the French), there is no admonition against any particular food group (carbs), but rather a difference in attitudes (eating habits, social habits) and food traditions (preparation, portions).

It's an interesting topic, with many off-shoots.

You neo-Atkins types, and anyone interested in changing their eating habits, might want to check out Nina Planck's What to Eat and Why.  Nina takes the idea that fat (and meat) are not to be shunned, but incorporated; she also makes the point that fresh, local fruits and vegetables are essential to the equation.  Some of her assertions are startling (lard is a healthful fat?), some on the fringe of accepted wisdom (raw milk), but it's a good read, even if her own logic is at times jumpy: she seems to come up with mostly the right conclusions, even when she uses specious methods of deduction.

Some other excellent reads concerning what to eat:

*The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.  I am currently reading this and must say it is much better than expected.  I'm finding a  lot of crossover data in my reading, and much of it invariably leads back to this book.  I'd always been interested in organic produce and milk and eggs, but this book convinced me to source all meat, dairy, and eggs directly from pastured sources.  More on that later.  

Anyway, two weekends ago, I bought a 5.0 cubic foot freezer, not huge, and if you're a hunter you probably have a bigger freezer, but it was sufficient for me and the Mrs., who does not eat meat (except fish).  This past Saturday, we went to a farm and bought about 33 pounds of beef, some for me, some to share with other family.  That was an experience I also will get into later.  To actually walk the fields planted with alfalfa and brownback grass and Ethipian grasses, which were part and parcel of the rancher's science, and see that the beef did not live confined and drugged and unhealthy lives, has made a lasting impression.  

*Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  In many ways, the book that led to all the other reading and research and activity I've been doing since the spring.  A simple, rather gentle read, the novelist writes a non-fiction account of her family growing almost all their own produce over the course of a year.  A bit preachy in spots, but I liked the sermon.  Challenged my fundamental assertions of what I was buying to eat, and whether it was as healthy as I thought.

*Heat, by Bill Buford.  Actually, the title is Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, and no, it's not by the former drummer for Yes and King Crimson.  Another easygoing read, Buford is a New Yorker editor who gets the fool notion that he, amateur cook, wants to become a line cook at Mario Batali's Babbo restaurant.  He also travels to Italy to learn from the masters, and along the way imparts a whole lot of interesting information, some of it having to do with cutting off parts of his fingers and setting himself on fire, some to do with restaurant practices a la Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, and some to do with food and food history.  What was interesting was that I read Heat at work, and Animal, Miracle, Vegetable and What to Eat at home, so the reading overlapped.  And all sorts of weird coincidences kept popping up, like it was some karmic path.

All of this combined, along with some web-based reading, has come together to form an interesting mosaic, and I can say it has produced a sea-change in our eating habits.  I'm thinking of writing up some articles for publication, who knows where, but consider yourselves test rats for that...  

Big Virgil:
It is amazing how other cultures, French with pastries, Italians with pasta (OK those are the only ones I know) eat those foods but don't have nearly the obesity we have.  As mentioned, it is prep and portion control.

Is buying a portion of a cow a cost savings vs buying at the store?  I knew people that bought a cow and split it with someone, so they got half a cow.  If I remember correctly  buying 1/2 cow seemed cost effective, but it has been a while since I have been exposed to those numbers.

What does your research say about living off of protein bars/powder?  I don't really do that, but I did last week.  Seemed much much better than soft pretzels, frozen lemonade, turkey legs, french fries (there were little McDonald shacks that sold only french fries), Mickey ice cream bars, etc.  

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