Monday, February 11, 2008

Goodie Two Shoes

I'm sure that we all--at least those of you who read this page and comment--want to be good to the planet, good to the universe and good to our own bodies. The problem is that often these goals are at odds and "the greatest good for the greatest number" principal hard to quantify.

Recently, my dear Chris Styler, brought me a copy of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. I had avoided it because I had had problems with his broad generalizations in the past; i.e. comments about lawns that did not take into account the keeping of the wild woods away from the door. However, I do suggest that you read his current book. It sets a simple view of how we should eat and probably more important buy.

It is sound, however, it does illustrate the conundrum. Indisputably, a greater proportion of our diet should come from vegetables and especially leafy greens, both for our own health and that of the planet. Living, as I do, in what is at present a very cold climate, I would have to buy vegetables that are shipped in as well as citrus to which I am addicted. I do grow Meyer lemons; but the trees need to come in and have artificial light in winter even in a south-facing window. All of these things use a great deal of carbon fuel.

I can and do cook root vegetables, kale when I can find it and some sprouts as well as greens that I harvested from my garden in warmer times and froze. nice for me; but the freezer uses energy. I don't have room for a root cellar, an ancestral solution, and even the root veggies by now require refrigeration if they are not to rot.

While I compost compulsively in Vermont, I think my New York City neighbors would have a fit if I tried it here.

Much of the good winter produce that we can get comes from islands and lands far away--fuel again. On the other hand, I commend Jamaica and other countries for improving their own way of life by growing and selling the produce and find it hard to deny them a living. i know that I have little control over their growing practices...but..

Organic and sustainable are good; but what are those in tropical climates to do with malaria, bugs and plant diseases? Surely, it is more important that children live.

Of course, i will keep on preaching to the choir--you, the believers--but I will tke the very real problems into account. I agree with Mr. Pollan; but. I will try to be sensible about what is possible and past history. I do not condone battery raised chickens; but I do realize that during the depression their arrival was a blessing.

In the meantime, i can reccomend the organic spices from along with their blog: Beautiful packaging too for good presents.

Times, needs and desire change.

I started all this rant with fish and seafood because they are easier to address and the solutions seem simpler: deprive ourselves of endangered species and unhealthy animals. Yet I morn the almost total absence of shad boners (a difficult act) on the Hudson as their product rich in Omega 3 fatty acids have been shunned for years due to pollution if the water. It's being cleaned up; but most of the boners are gone.

Often we are making difficult choices and often I do not know which is the correct one. I wish I did.

1 comment:

Corby said...

Lovely post. We all face these problems wherever we live in the US except possibly some California pockets and I wonder even there. The overall effect of all this attention is I think to make us more *aware* eaters, as you eloquently point out.