Food For Thought: The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma book coverTo start this Food For Thought series off I’d like to highlight one of the best, most compelling books I’ve read about the food we eat & its origins.

Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a fascinating exploration of the origins of modern food and the implications that our choices have for the health of us—and our planet. Pollan’s account of his stay at Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farms was especially fascinating.

This is a bit of a dense read, because it’s so packed with information, but it’s an incredibly eye-opening & thought-provoking book. A few takeaway points that stuck with me:

  • If we are what we eat, then we are corn. Corn is in everything, from frozen vegetables to sandwich meat to yogurt to pasta sauce to bread to grape juice and even cough syrup, most often in the form of high fructose corn syrup or modified corn starch — or both.
  • Corn fields have become little more than a very inefficient means of converting petroleum (in the form of fuel, fertilizer, & pesticides) into food. And corn seems "cheap" at the consumer end because we’ve already paid for it once via tax subsidies that support the Farm Bill.
  • Industrial farms often use very sketchy loopholes to qualify for using the “organic” label on their produce. When buying produce, it’s far better to shop for locally-grown or regional items first, organic or otherwise.
  • It’s worth understanding the distinctions between organic, free range, hormone-free, etc. Some of these terms are used more loosely than others. For instance, “free range” animals are often provided only the opportunity to roam in a small open area but not necessarily given any incentive to do so. They typically live no differently than non-free range animals.
  • If farms were to switch from monoculture (only one crop grown) back to growing many different crops and raising a variety of animals as well, not only would the farmers benefit, but so would the livestock, environment, and community as a whole.

Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is one of the two books I’ll be drawing a name for at the end of this Food For Thought week, so be sure to leave a comment so you’re entered to win! I’d love to hear from others who’ve read this book or if you’ve read another book that made a real impact upon how you view food, please share that!

Food For Thought

Food For ThoughtOver the past few years, I’ve become very intrigued by food and much more mindful about the quality of what we eat, where it comes from, and how it affects us.

Having never written a consecutive blog series before, I’ve been eager to try.   So each day this week, I’ll be featuring a food-related article in the hope that sharing these nuggets may inform, inspire, incite, or at least interest you as much as they have me.

I’ll post the first in the series tomorrow, but until then please browse through some of our past food-related blog entrées.

And there’s more…

To commemorate this blog series, I’ll be doing a giveaway of two of my favorite food-related books.   Simply leave a comment on any blog post here on 2Dolphins this week to enter the random drawing.   On Saturday, I’ll select the names at random and promptly ship the books to the two lucky winners!

Articles in this Food For Thought series:

Big Boy Bed

Liam made the transition from his baby bed to a "big boy" bed this past weekend.   He was so excited when they delivered the bed on Saturday morning!   We temporarily moved the baby bed to other side of his room (just in case) but he kept insisting that we get it out of there because he’s a big boy now.

He did really well with his nap Saturday afternoon and then slept all that night (with only one roll-off mishap).   Luckily his giant, fluffy bear Hugo "caught" him when he rolled off the bed at 5:30 on Sunday morning.   Rob bought a couple of swimming pool foam noodles that we put under the fitted sheet on each side of the bed to create bumpers for the sides and that seems to have solved the rolling off problem.

twin-size bed

After naptime yesterday, we decided to take the old crib apart and Liam even helped remove screws with the cordless drill and bag up the little pieces.

The headboard is still in transit and we haven’t installed the bedskirt yet so I’ll update this post with another picture when all of that’s in place.

Update:   The ready-to-assemble headboard finally arrived so here’s the completed bed with headboard, noodles and bedskirt all in place:

twin-size bed

We’ve also finally updated the Liam’s bedroom page with some photos and details of his room.   Be sure to take a peek!
 

My Birthday Gift

Sorry, I’m a day late on posting my birthday gift photo but due to scheduling conflicts, I had to move my appointment for tonight.   Without further ado, here it is — and YES, it did hurt!   But it was worth it!

foot tattoo

Thanks to Anita’s great recommendation, I made my tattoo appointment with Calvin at Blue Collar Art Co..   What do you think?

Update:   I found this excellent tattoo care video by Pat Fish in Santa Barbara that offers fantastic advice on the care & maintenance of a new tattoo.   Tattoo aftercare varies widely from artist to artist (and with some, it’s barely even addressed) but Pat provides more detailed instructions & explanation than any other artist I’ve dealt with.
 

Tax-Free Insanity

tax-free graphicThe annual, three-day Sales Tax Holiday begins today in Texas.   During the "holiday" weekend of August 21—23rd, back-to-school shoppers get a break from state & local sales taxes on most clothing, shoes, backpacks, & school supplies priced at less than $100 purchased for use by a student in an elementary or secondary school.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being frugal and realize that even small savings can add up, but just as I wondered how did shopping become a holiday? a couple of years back, I continue to question this insanity.   There’s little doubt as to our government’s underlying motives for this "holiday" — oh sure, we get a little relief from sales taxes on a few select items, but they get a massive shot in the arm from the influx of taxes on incidental purchases — purchases we’d be much less likely to make if not for this artificial incentive.

And really, unless you’re spending hundreds of dollars, an eight percent savings isn’t a tremendous net.   (C’mon, we’re talking about less than a Frappuccino or two.)   In fact, I suspect that if instead of this pay no sales tax all weekend event, retailers advertised a take 8% off on back-to-school purchases sale, the response would be, um, "yawn."

Rapacious retailers are, of course, banking heavily upon this "holiday" to lure budget-crunched consumers into the stores and help pry open their wallets.   These annual sales tax holidays have become a huge event that extend, in many states, well beyond sensible school supplies to include big-ticket items like large electronics, major appliances, & furniture.

And the tax-free insanity doesn’t end there…

Some states also have separate sales tax holidays just for firearms.   Firearms?   Yup, you can get your weaponry & ammo tax-free in Louisiana on September 4—6th and in South Carolina on November 27—28th!
 

29 Again

Each year, Dede’s birthday is kinda overshadowed by the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death and this one was no different.   It was a low-key birthday, but still we did manage to get out to a restaurant for a nice dinner — something that’s a bit rare these days.

Rob, Dede, and Liam

Dede’s birthday "gift" was delayed a couple of days due to scheduling, but she has an appointment on Wednesday evening so stay tuned for photos of her "gift" later this week…
 

Five Little Monkeys With a Tragic Ending

Since moving up into Ms. Gloria’s 3-4 Year Olds class at daycare this month, Liam has been learning a whole new set of songs.   I think we’ve heard Five Little Monkeys Swinging In a Tree about 20 times every day this week.   And the practice is paying off, because he’s nearly got all the words memorized — and has even started embellishing it with other details as you’ll see in the video below.   Enjoy!

Living On the Edge

straight razor

Over at The Art of Manliness blog, Brett & Kate McKay recently capped off their “30 Days to a Better Man” series with an article extolling the manly virtues of that tapped into a soft spot I’ve long since had.

Y’see, the day before my wedding, my brother Rich (whom I hadn’t seen for several years prior due to him being stationed at a USAF base in the Philippines) & I went to get haircuts together.   We scoured the town trying to find a barbershop that offered old-fashioned straight razor shaves but we were advised that (at that time) nobody was doing them out of fear of AIDS.   So I just kinda dismissed the notion and never really looked back.

That was 13 years ago

On a whim last week, I phoned around to see if I could find a barbershop that does this now and on Saturday, I took the plunge and finally got that elusive straight razor shave I had backburnered for so long.

Was it everything I’d thought it might be?   Well, my usually-stubbly face felt as soft & smooth as a baby’s bottom and my moustache & goatee has never looked more neatly & precisely trimmed.   And to be sure, it was a distinctly masculine-feeling thing to do.   But…

I’m not sure I chose the right barber to do the task.

There were no hot, moist cotton towels or fancy facial prepwork to soften my whiskers.   No ceremonial stropping with that ominous schtick, schtick sound of the cold, glinty steel razor being dragged across a timeworn piece of leather to finely hone its edge.   No bushy badger brush clinking in the old ceramic cup of soap to whisk up a warm soapy lather.   Nope, my first ever old-fashioned straight razor shave sadly featured none of the quintessential rituals that would’ve made it so much more of a momentous venture.

There were, however, lots of nicks that stung like fierce little rattlesnake bites when the barber hit me (without warning!) with the thankfully unscented, but nonetheless very potent post-shave astringent.

Still, if you were to ask me if I’d get a straight razor shave again, I’d say “Yes!”   Now that I know that some barbers do offer this service again and I’m past the initial apprehension of having someone come at my tender face with a big, gleaming piece of sharpened metal, I do think it’ll happen again — but with a different barber next time!
 

Lucky Thirteen

men’s two-tone wedding bandTo those who are superstitious, thirteen is a number to be feared, but I’ve never felt luckier — today marks our 13th wedding anniversary!

We played Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Grow Old With Me” during our wedding ceremony and those opening lines, “Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be…” have never, ever ceased to be true.   These have, without question, been the most amazing, eventful, rewarding, & blessed years and I continue to eagerly anticipate whatever comes next…

And I discovered that there are quite a few interesting things associated with the number 13:

  • The American flag has thirteen horizontal stripes, six white ones & seven red ones, to commemorate the 13 colonies that originally formed the United States.
  • Considered a special number in Pakistan, 13 is tera in Punjabi, which means “yours” (as in, “I am yours, O Lord”).
  • NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino both wore number 13.
  • The expression “baker’s dozen” dates back to 13th century England where bakers would give an extra loaf when selling a dozen to avoid being penalized for selling short weight.
  • There’s a formally-recognized phobia for those who dread the number 13: Triskaidekaphobia.
  • A mid-mission technical malfunction (explosion of an oxygen tank) forced the Apollo 13 lunar landing to be aborted on April 13, 1970 — 39 years ago (39÷3=13).
  • There were thirteen participants at the Last Supper, with Judas Iscariot (the disciple who betrayed Jesus) believed to have been the 13th to sit at the table.