Industry vs. Family: A Tale of Two Farms

Pollan, M. 2006. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A natural history of four meals. Penguin Group Inc., New York, NY. pg. 185-273.

 

What does one think of when they think “soufflé”? Undoubtedly, they think of the immediate taste they’re experiencing; perhaps they’re thinking of the ingredients that have come together to produce the flavors. Certainly, they aren’t thinking about where those ingredients that produce those flavors and form the dish come from, nor where they have been and the experiences they have underwent.

Once again, I am smitten by Pollan’s writing. He is so obviously passionate about his topics, and how we produce, market, and agonize over what we eat. One thing he really gets into depth about is grass. Within the first couple of pages, he regards grass as a keystone species, “the nexus between the solar energy that powers every food chain and the animals we eat” (pg.188). This is interesting, as it’s something I never really thought of: grass is ultimately a way in which we harvest energy from the sun, whether directly (eating a vegetable from the garden) or indirectly (eating an animal which has eaten grass). I never truly realized how accurate it is to call ourselves ‘sun farmers’ – well, true farmers, anyway.

One thing I very much enjoy about Pollan is his writing style, as I’ve mentioned a few times before. He draws us in by telling us his own stories and experiences, which in my opinion, is much better than reading plain facts. Pollan expertly and tactically writes so that his readers can imagine everything he experienced, and immerses them in his own story.

That, to me, is a wonderful thing.

For example, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is an ongoing story he writes about. He mentions previous experiences that he’s already discussed, like when he was watching the herd of cattle: “The last time I stood watching a herd of cattle eat their supper I was standing up to my ankles in cow manure in Poky Feeders pen number 43 in Garden City, Kansas” (pg. 194). This triggered my memory, recalling how disgusted I was in learning how industrial cows are raised. Their food chain reaches all the way back to cornfields in Iowa, to the Gulf of Mexico, and further still; cows that eat grasses eat the sun, so to say. It is obvious quite early that Pollan is pro-grass-eating animals, and I think his intention is to convince the reader the same via his own experiences and facts, and he does an excellent job in doing so.

He also does a wonderful job in explaining and describing how many elements of a pasture work together in order to function. Grass is eaten by cows, who spread and fertilize seed with their manure; cows keep the grass at it’s optimal growing length; chickens root through cow patties to eat the fly larvae within; pigs aerate the cows decomposition into a good compost; compost will feed the grasses, so the grasses can feed the cows, the cows the chicken, and so on. It’s beautifully interconnected, and the farm is “more like an organism than a machine” (pg. 213) – it needs separate structures for it to function optimally. Again, I’ve never thought about it this way before, and it has become more clear to me how farm-grown animals is a more natural choice.

One thing that bothered me throughout this reading is all of the sad truths Pollan points out. First of all, he grudgingly notes that “our civilization and…food system are strictly organized on industrial lines” (pg. 201). That is, they prize consistency, mechanization, and economics, and for those reasons, they use corn to feed livestock. Instead of going for a more natural, ultimately safer and higher quality method of feeding livestock grass, industries go the cheap and efficient route – it’s quite disgusting. Another thing Pollan mentions is how people “put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food” (pg. 240). This is so true. I, for one, put much more thought into that kind of thing than over where the food I eat comes from, and I’m sure most other people do as well. I think we need to become more aware of this, not just because farm-grown food is higher quality, but because we would also be supporting local farms. This can be summed up nicely by the quote, “instead of mad cow disease, we’ve got glad cows at ease” (pg. 247).

Overall, Pollan really attempts to turn the reader off of industrial-based food and instead focus on farm-grown or local food. After all, “we can still decide, every day, what we’re going to put into our bodies, what sort of food chain we want to participate in” (pg. 257). Instead of going for a bland industrial meal, why not try a tastier, more rich local meal? It’s definitely something I am increasingly considering after reading Pollan’s explanations.

So, thinking about that soufflé again. Next time I’m eating a dish, I will concentrate on the ingredients and where exactly they come from, so I can focus on “where this sublime bite began” (pg. 273).

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The Desire of Intoxication

Pollan, M. 2002. The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. Random House Trade Paperbacks, New York, NY. pg. 113-180.

 

When I first read the subject of the chapter, marijuana, I thought to myself, “great, we get to read all about the high experiences when using the plant”, but boy was I wrong. Pollan takes the subject and expands it into everything we need and want to know. Almost everyone knows that marijuana can give rise to a pleasant high, but I can guarantee that few people really know about the history and mechanisms of the plant.

Pollan starts his chapter off nicely by drawing attention away from the plants that are grown to sustain life, and introducing us to plants that do other, more curious things: “some heal, others rouse or calm or quiet the body’s pain…there are plants that manufacture molecules with the power to change the subjective experience of reality we call consciousness” (pg. 114). Right there. Right there is where I got hooked on the reading, when my interest increased immensely. When Pollan uses great sentences like that, I no longer question why I find his writing to be such a joy to read.

Not only do I like the sentence structure Pollan uses, but he also seems to have quite the sense of humor, which makes reading his content even better. For example, I had quite the time reading his personal experience of growing his own marijuana plants. I found myself literally laughing aloud when I came across the sentence “there they were, a couple of jolly green giants lurking behind the barn” (pg. 122). I also found good humor in the way he described doing any measure to keep the chief of police from discovering his plants. His comical aspect is another reason why I really enjoy Pollan as an author.

Pollan also brings up many interesting points about the marijuana plant and drugs plants in general. He writes that “many drug plants do confer advantages on the creatures that consume them – fiddling with one’s brain chemistry can be very useful indeed” (pg. 142). When I think drug plants, I generally think about the high that one can get; however, they have so much more purpose than that, including relieving pain, increasing concentration, enhancing endurance, and of course relieving stress and helping people sleep. I think the media has conditioned us to believe that drugs and drug plants are all bad, though in reality the truth is that their purposes serve us many benefits – people are just too brainwashed to really recognize this.

Drug plants, in that sense, really are a beautiful thing.

One concept I definitely wasn’t familiar with was the history of marijuana, and Pollan does an extraordinary job of walking readers through it. “The moment humans discovered what these molecules could do for them…the plants that made them suddenly had a brilliant new way to prosper” (pg. 145). I love how Pollan constantly questions who really controls who, plants or people. It always has my mind thoroughly thinking about it, and I can never truly answer it. In the case of marijuana, people recognized its potential, and both humans and plant prospered from such a discovery.

Something I found to be especially interesting is the mechanism behind the compound THC within marijuana works within the body. The human brain was discovered to have its own specific receptor for THC, “a type of nerve cell that THC binds to like a molecular key in a lock, causing it to activate” (pg. 153). This activation can trigger cognitive, behavioral, or physiological changes. It’s almost like we were built to interact with THC, and that to me is fascinating.

Overall, it was both fun and interesting chapter to read. Like I mentioned before, I had no idea about the history or mechanism of marijuana, just knowledge about what it does to the body. However, after reading Pollan’s chapter on the desire of intoxication, it’s much more clear to me why we crave the forbidden plant and its temptations.

 

Seeds That Kill

Hanson, T. 2015. The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History. Perseus Books Group, Basic Books, New York, NY. pg. 161-175

 

“Death by Umbrella”. Well that definitely sounds interesting. I thought this book was about seeds? After gaining knowledge about the more innocent, wholesome seeds in the earlier chapters (like beans and spices), it was an abrupt change to read about seeds that have the potential to kill.

Right away, readers are thrown into a dark and disturbing story about Georgi Markov, and how he got assassinated by a seed toxin. Not a classic weapon we expect to see in assassinations, such as guns or explosives, but a tiny amount of product that came from a seed. It’s truly amazing to think about how a seed can produce such a thing, and the author does an amazing job at capturing the attention of the reader right at the beginning of the chapter by introducing such a troubling story of murder.

Hanson definitely focuses a lot on Markov and his death within this chapter, but it is very suitable, especially when he explains just how much (or little, I should say) of an amount it takes to kill a person. He described that the pellet removed from Markov’s body that contained the poison measured less than 1.5 millimeters in diameter and had a capacity of 450 micrograms. Although I wasn’t sure how much this was, Hanson did an excellent job in comparing it to a pen: “press a ballpoint pen lightly onto a piece of paper. The tiny ink-speck it leaves behind  is the size of the pellet” (pg. 164). That is TINY! I would never have expected that little of an amount to harm someone, never mind killing a man.

I’ll be honest, when I first started the read, I knew absolutely nothing about any toxic seed. What they were, how much toxin they contained, how they worked to kill a living organism, nothing; but again, Hanson does an incredible job in taking the reader through all of these, so we get a clear understanding of the concept as well as keeping it interesting at the same time. As a biology major, I found it awesome that he described how ricin works. By describing it’s “double-chain structure” and how it uses both chains, with “one chain piercing the surface while the other detaching inside and wreaking havoc on the ribosomes” (pg. 165), I understand how toxins work to a degree.

That is something I find phenomenal: how such a tiny seed can wreak so much havoc.

Hanson also made me realize how many seeds actually contain toxins, like apple seeds and cherry pits, which are both common fruit. I knew apple seeds contained cyanide, but I never realized people were using it in high quantities to actually kill people. It’s almost scary to think about. However, at the same time, Hanson reminds us that the toxins can also serve as a medicine for many species. For example, primates “shop around the apothecary of the rainforest to help rid themselves of parasites, or relieve the pain of injury and disease” (pg. 169). Seeds are like a double-whammy, possessing the ability to both kill and heal.

Personally, this has been my favorite read so far. Maybe it was because I find the fact that seeds can contain so little yet do so much, or maybe it was because I love a murder mystery story; either way, Hanson captivated me yet again by the simple yet breathtaking triumph of seeds.

We Are What We Eat

Pollan, M. 2006. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A natural history of four meals. Penguin Group Inc., New York, NY. pg. 15-119.

 

My initial thought when reflecting on Pollan’s book is: wow. Reading everything in the first half of his book was eye-opening, and it had my attention the entire time. Quite outstanding.

Even in the very first chapter I was engrossed in the book. Pollan brings up so many facts and things about food that normally, we wouldn’t even think of. For example, we often think of a supermarket simply as a place where we can pick up our necessities, but “in the eyes of a naturalist, your impression is apt to be of its astounding biodiversity” (pg. 16). Supermarkets have such a wide range of plants and animals within such a small area, something I’ve never thought of before.

One thing that Pollan really gets into quickly is corn. Right away, he states that corn is everything: coffee whitener, Cheez Whiz, frozen yogurt, waffles, syrups, sauces, hot dogs, vitamins, toothpaste, trash bags -the list goes on and on. I’m willing to bet that no one really knows how many things contain corn, or started from the plant.

“You are what you eat, it’s often said, and if this is true, then what we mostly are is corn – or, more precisely, processed corn” (pg. 20).

I found it very intriguing how corn, over the years, have become more and more dependent on humans. As Pollan put it, “corn, with the help of its Native American allies, evolved whatever traits it needed to survive and flourish” (pg. 25). I’m a fan of this statement, not only because he talks about corn as if it is a person with allies, but also because it reminds me of the argument from his other book, ‘The Botany of Desire’, which raises the question of who’s really in control – plants or people? We depend on corn for a ridiculous amount of things, but corn also depends on us.

Kind of interesting, don’t you think?

Something I especially liked about Pollan’s writing is that he gives us a background and history about where food comes from, but he provides us with that information as he’s travelling to various places and talking to various people in the book. When he goes to George Naylor’s farm, he talks about the farming background of food; when he goes to the ranch, he talks about the industrial background of producing food. It’s a story crammed with facts. Learning about the history and background of corn was actually very interesting, yet sad. Pollan mentions how farmers planted more and more of it, at first causing chickens and cattle to disappear from farms, then pushing out the people (corn doesn’t require as much labor as the old, diversified farms).

However, the most engrossing part of this book by far was discovering the relationship between corn and livestock. These days, livestock are fed with corn-based everything, which I was not aware of. Being fed a rich diet of corn, cows reach slaughter weight much faster than cows raised on grass – in industry, it is all about efficiency. “Calories are calories, and corn is the cheapest, most convenient source of calories [for livestock] on the market” (pg. 75). Although this may be true, a diet of corn can cause the cows many health problems, including ulcers, rumenitis, liver disease, and a weak immune system, which is turn can lead to other problems. Yet we continue to consume the meat on a regular basis – you wouldn’t eat a sick animal, so why would you eat one of these cows?

Utterly appalling.

I think Pollan definitely makes it clear that corn is the most efficient ways to get calories, whether it be in the form of an animal fat, a sugar, or a starch. As I mentioned before, most people probably don’t even know how much of our food is corn-based. Not only that, but most people probably don’t have a clue about the role corn plays in today’s food industry. I loved reading Pollan’s work, and he is undoubtedly changing my thoughts about food products. We really are living in a world where the food industry could be accurately described as “the omnivore’s dilemma”.

Laying a Foundation of History

The first thing I’d like to mention is that never in my life have I been more forced to read a book than the chapters assigned in Diamond’s. Having read it laying on the couch Monday morning, it was not the best way to start my morning off. I found Diamond’s writing to be drab and dense, and keeping my head focused on his writing was difficult. He really obviously likes to use sophisticated words to explain his concepts, and that makes the readings more difficult to comprehend. However, with that being said, there were definitely a few subjects he brought up that caught my attention more than others parts of his book.

Diamond, throughout the chapters, ultimately lays down a foundation for understanding human history. He describes how the earliest people depended on hunting and gathering food, rather than farming and agriculture. An early statement he had was how “today, most people on Earth consume food that they produced themselves or that someone else produced for them” (pg. 86), bringing up the question of how the hunter and gatherer lifestyle gradually faded out, and agriculture took over. One way Diamond explains this is by explaining the indirect and direct values of early crops and livestock as food. By selecting the best crops to grow, the total calories obtained are far more than those acquired just by hunting/gathering. Livestock help the crops by creating manure and pulling plows; they also aided people by supplying milk, meat, and fur. The livestock and selected crops, in turn, led to denser human populations because it was an easier lifestyle to live, and allowed mothers to have and support more children.

Diamond goes on the further explain why hunters and gatherers got phased out – the arrival of foreign crops and animals supplied a richer food source, and the hunters/gatherers remaining might have gotten driven out or killed by other coming in to grow their own crops. Quite sad to think about, but it was almost revolutionary. Anything that made life easier was thought highly of.

A good section of the book that caught my attention was the competition between hunting/gathering and food production. Overall, Diamond explains five factors that led to the phasing out of hunting and gathering: “The decline in the availability of wild foods…increased availability of domesticable wild plants made steps leading to plant domestication more rewarding…the cumulative development of technologies in which food production would eventually depend…the link between the rise in human population density and the rise in food production…and geographic boundaries between hunter-gatherer and food producers” (pg. 110-112). Reading this gave me an understanding in why plant domestication came to rule, and was actually interesting.

As a result of this, hunters and gatherers were either taken over by neighboring food producers, or survived only by adopting food production themselves.

Although this book was rather quite boring to read (even more than, say, my molecular genetics textbook), I did enjoy some interesting parts, like why and how the hunting-gathering lifestyle gradually faded out, and the lifestyle with domesticated plants and animals took over. Diamond gives us an informative and somewhat insightful history of the world’s agriculture and humans, but I will say again that it was very dense and hard to read at some, or most, parts.

Overall, I have a much better insight to how the world developed plant production. Of course, there are still many cultures in the world that depend on hunting and gathering there food. However, most cultures and societies today depend completely on food that they produced or others have produced, and it was definitely interesting to read about the history that led to where we are today

Plants vs. Humans – Who really has control?

Pollan, M. 2002. The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World. Random House Trade Paperbacks, New York, NY. pg. xiii-xxv.

Diamond, J. 1999. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Norton & Company, New York, NY. pg. 114-130.

I currently sit at my kitchen table, being astonished by all of the information and concepts that have been introduced to me for the first time while reading these two books. I did not know that I would be putting as much thought as I am into this, and I’m still not sure whether to argue against the issue of who really controls who when it comes to artificial selection and domestication. 

Both of these books are all about the cultivation of plants from their wild ancestors. I started with reading Pollan’s interesting introduction to his book, and that is what really got me thinking about this new concept of who controls who. Initially, he starts off by describing how most people would, naturally, think that they are in control of what they plant in their garden, and what specifically they want to grow: “I’m in charge here…I choose the plants, I pull the weeds, I harvest the crops” (pg. xiv). Of course, this is what I’ve thought my entire life, even when I planted seeds with my mother in our small backyard garden back home in Northern BC. When the vegetables popped out of the brown soil, so green and lively, I was so very excited that the seeds in which I planted and took care of were alive and well. Little did I know, those plants were taking advantage of my ability to move them around, or more specifically, move their progeny around.  As Pollan puts it, “the flower has manipulated the bee into hauling it’s pollen from blossom to blossom” (pg. xiv).

An amazing thing that I think Pollan points out in his book is how plants play on animals’ desires, conscious, and otherwise, especially ones that are fruitful. They stay unripe, bitter, and bland until they are ready to disperse their seeds – then, they become ripe, sweet, and colourful to attract the animals that will move for them, which is an incredibly remarkable strategy. It is a strategy I’ve never considered before: plants ripen in order for their seed dispersal and thus boosting their reproductive success. This entire concept has not been obvious to me, and I’m assuming not many other people think about plants controlling us as well.

I’m stupefied.

Pollan also brings up a good point when he states “it has become much harder, in the past century, to tell where the garden leaves and pure nature begins” (pg. xxii). Humans have been shaping plants via artificial selection for decades, influencing their growth and produce, so that almost all of what we eat these days are not at all what the plants’ wild ancestors would have looked like. It really is amazing to think about, especially when you haven’t put much thought into it before.

Artificial selection is a very popular approach, and is what Diamond really focuses on in his book. Like Pollan, he focuses on the cultivation of plants, but he gives many more examples and scenarios that make you think. He mentions unconscious criteria, which is a fascinating and new idea for me. Before, it never crossed my mind how I preferred larger fruit and vegetables over smaller ones. But of course, it is my unconscious criteria that prefers this, as well as sweetness, fleshy/seedless fruits, and oily seeds. What drives this preference is the fact that our early ancestors cultivated and domesticated the plants that met this criteria. As well, Diamond mentions how we selected not only for all of this, but for “invisible features like seed dispersal mechanisms, germination inhibition, and reproductive biology” (pg. 122), all of which help us in obtaining more high quality plants. He gives the examples of sunflower seeds, peas, pumpkins, oranges, grapes, bananas, watermelons, strawberries – the list is almost endless. It really shows you how much of an impact domestication and artificial selection has had on plants to benefit us.

Overall, as I mentioned, I am astonished by these two authors and books. If it wasn’t for these readings, I would not have even considered how plants control us, and as a result, how artificial selection/domestication has come about. I think the main idea is to plant an idea in peoples’ minds about who really controls who – do plants control people, or do people control plants? It’s an interesting argument. I may have disagreed with the theory that plants control people, but after considering what facts both Pollan and Diamond have brought up, my stand on the matter is changed. After all, “plants have been going about the business of remaking us” (pg. xvii)

 

The Triumph of Seeds

Hanson, T. 2015. The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History. Perseus Books Group, Basic Books, New York, NY. pg. xix-18, 55-80

The Triumph of Seeds was a very interesting read, keeping my attention throughout reading the separate chapters. Concerning the chapters within this book, they are very easy to read; each chapter is like a separate story, and you do not have to have read the previous chapters in order to understand what is going on. I liked that part about it. As well, each chapter was focused on completely different, yet somehow connected, topics. It really gets you thinking about the many different aspects that we have on plants, from their diverse seeds to their evolution and traits.

Even in the introduction, Hanson does a good job in introducing the importance of seeds in the world today. He brings up the fact that “even children know that the tiniest pip contains…the spark an all the instructions needed to build a carrot, an oak tree, wheat, mustard, sequoias, or any one of the estimated 352,000 other kinds of plants that use seeds to reproduce” (pg. xxii). It’s almost kind of comforting knowing that children are raised and taught to recognize and know the function of seeds – at least they have some sort of knowledge about the importance they have. Hanson also talks about how we literally live in a world of seeds. They provide so many crucial food items that we use in everyday life, from bagels to hot cocoa. “They are quite literally the staff of life, the basis of diets, economies, and lifestyles around the globe” (pg. xxii). This was very eye-opening for me, for I had not previously put a lot of thought into what seeds actually provide us. Yes, the obvious peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc., but never what vast amount of items they produce. It’s quite amazing how much we rely on them.

The first chapter of the book is quite inspiring. Hanson describes the magnificence and potential of tiny seeds and saplings, summed up nicely by the sentence on page 6: “This tiny speck had the potential to reach the forest canopy far above me, its first steps fueled entirely by the energy of the seed.” It’s awe-inspiring how such a small little seed can turn into the most breathtaking plants on this planet. The author also writes about how important seeds are in the survival of many species, and how, without seeds, the ecology of a forest could be disrupted, leading to a cascade of changes (even possible extinction of species!). Again, this was an eye-opener for me. Of course, I knew that seeds provided food for many species, I just did not think that the loss of seeds could result in extinction. Yet another reason why seeds play a vital role in the world.

The first chapter also introduces Carol Baskin, a seed biologist who is very passionate about her studies. I think that the importance of mentioning her in the book is subtle but important: she explains the mechanism inside seeds that makes the process of germination and becoming a tree happen, but in a way that every reader will have an understanding of it. This is especially apparent when she describes the ‘baby in a box’ analogy for seeds, that “a seed in a baby plant, in a box, with a lunch” (pg. 9). It’s good to have an understanding of where a plant begins its life in order to further appreciate them, and Carol provides this to the readers.

One distinct thing I really enjoyed about this book, are the descriptions of many things. Hanson does an utterly remarkable job in using descriptive words for the readers to get an exact picture in their minds. There are many situations in which he uses this tactic: “root cells…long, narrow tubes that looked a lot like the balloons a clown might use to tie animal shapes” (pg. 13); “The seed fern’s trunk looked like lizard skin, scale black and orange against the tan surface of the rock” (pg.58); “The spores practically glowed, tucked into speckled golden pouches at the base of each leaf” (pg.65). I love how Hanson does this – it really paints a picture in your mind, making the reading more enjoyable and picturing the plants and images in a crystal clear way.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the few chapters of this book. It got me thinking about the importance of seeds in the world (food for both us and many other species), and also where they came from, how they evolved and prospered, and how they grow from a seed into a magnificent plant. I think Hanson’s main goal here is to get readers to understand and appreciate seeds, and to get engaged in the triumph of seeds, because they are crucial on this planet and will remain crucial until the end of time.  The world needs to have an understanding of “how profoundly seeds, and our intimate relationship with them, have influenced the way we understand the natural world” (pg. 73).

 

 

 

The 100-Mile Diet

Smith, A. & MacKinnon, JB. 2007. The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating. Vintage Canada, Toronto. Pg. 2-56.

The first half of this book is a very interesting read, for it really gets an individual thinking more about what they are eating and where that food actually comes from. The concept of the so called “100-mile diet” forces you to think about eating more locally rather than eating globally. It also gets you researching and looking further into what types of food are grown near and around your city, thus you gain an appreciation in the local farmers and suppliers of fresh foods. As soon as I started reading the first chapter of this book, I was thinking about how most of the food that I eat is certainly not local, but rather shipped across hundreds of miles. Every word of this book so far really gets you deeply thinking about local foods, and is definitely changing my perspective about eating worldwide.

Growing up, you never really think about where the food you’re eating comes from; rather, you just make a good meal and enjoy the foods in it. That was my case, anyhow. I have always shopped at commercial grocery stores (i.e. Superstore, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Save-On Foods, etc.), without paying any attention to local food marts. I will also admit I’ve never been to the farmer’s market in town, where local farmers and growers sell and I have an excellent chance in exploring and possibly buying the fresh foods grown locally. It has never really been an interest of mine, because as mentioned, I have never put thought into buying locally.

Reading the very first chapter of this book got my mind going about how oblivious we are when buying food these days. We have no idea where most items are coming from. As mentioned on the third page of the book (very early!), “the food we eat now typically travels between 1,500 and 3,000 miles from farm to plate”. That is a significant distance, and definitely not local. They also predict that the distance is likely to increase over the years. It’s almost sad to think about – commercial growers are making all the profit, while the delicious, home-grown plants of locals are being almost ignored by most. Of course, I was one of the people who was completely oblivious to buying locally, until I started reading the very first chapter of “The 100-Mile Diet”.

Another point the authors bring up pretty early in the book is that a grocery store today may carry 45,000 different items, 17,000 new food products are being introduced in the United States each year, and yet almost none of the food in a common household came from the surrounding people or landscape (pg. 13). Again, I find that eye-opening, and it almost makes me want to start buying more locally rather than from a typical grocery store. Although it may be more expensive and less items would be available, I would be supporting the locals and the food would likely be fresh and utterly breathtaking. I am not even finished reading the book and I am already considering changing my eating habits to cater to local foods.

Yet another part of the first half of the book I enjoyed, or thought was a good thing to bring up and to think about, was the use of pesticides on plants these days. The sentence on pg. 56 really illustrates this: “in 1952, just 11% of American corn was treated with pesticides and herbicides; today, the statistic is over 95%.” This is definitely part of a long controversial argument in the world about the use of pesticides/herbicides, and I’m glad that the authors of this book brought it up and talked about the ridiculously high number of their use in the world today.

Overall, though I have not finished reading the book yet, I get the impression that the authors really want people to focus more on their local farming communities and to choose a more sustainable way of eating. They bring up many valid points throughout the chapters about how eating around the world has major implications, and eating locally has many positive aspects. I have a much stronger opinion and am definitely more informed about eating locally now. I will probably start looking more into local food marts and the farmer’s market of Kamloops rather than continue to buy everything from a grocery store.