When you raise your own food, whether it is vegetables in the garden or cattle on the pasture, it is hard not to start thinking about where your food comes from and feel responsible for making sure you know. Where does the cereal, the apples, the beef I purchase at the supermarket come from? At the end of the line, you will find a farmer working to make ends meet, but what process does our food have to go through to get from the farmer to my plate?
Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan is a fantastic read if you wonder about how our food in the United States is made and handled. I’ve been listening to it in my car to and from my librarian job and am taking away one message so far: What I choose to eat has complicated implications.
One part that particularly strikes me in this book is the description of how the cattle are handled in the confined feedlots that supply the beef available in our supermarkets. These cattle are housed in concrete feeding areas to be fattened. They are fed corn, a food unnatural to a ruminant, to increase their caloric intake and given antibiotics to keep them healthy until they are ready for butchering. The stark contrast this picture gives to my cows happily grazing grass on a pasture is startling.
I’m only about 1/3 of the way through the book. It is divided into three main categories of how we get our food: industrial, pastured, and hunter-gatherer. If you are a foodie or are interested in the social/political implications of how we raise our food, I would highly suggest reading it.