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Sustainable Food

2006-06-22 17:11:16.262104+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

[ related topics: Food Michael Pollan ]

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#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-22 17:47:57.486299+00 by: ebradway

It's easy to lump a giant like Whole Foods in with Wal-Mart but they are very different in their practice. Wal-Mart strives to find the lowest prices possible at any cost and Whole Foods tries to deliver customer demand in product irrespective of cost. Too bad Pollan didn't do his research. It's easy to take the reactive, anti-big corporation stance rather than look at how it's possible for a big corporation to act responsibly. Starbucks falls in the same category. Sure, they have an overly aggressive market placement process (a Starbucks on every corner) but they do provide excellent pay and benefits for employees and attempt to source the most sustainable coffee beans.

As for Omega-3: the real problem, for omnivores, is that our sources of meat aren't the same quality they used to be. Free-roaming, grass-fed beef and eggs contain generous supplies of Omega-3. However, grain-fed, penned animal meat and eggs contain absolutely no Omega-3. So we look for it elsewhere - in the form of a pill made from fish... A better solution: go out in your yard and pick some purslane and chia, chop it up in your salad and use fresh lemon juice and flax seed oil as your dress. More Omega-3s than a big flank of salmon and much fewer heavy metals!

Flax seed oil goes rancid, even refridgerated, in about 6 weeks after pressing. On a recent trip to the Boulder Co-op, I found I had to dig to the back of the cooler to find bottles that were over 3 months old! Barlean's prints their press date as well as an expiration date (6 months after pressing!) the others didn't print the press date and had expiration dates 12 months past pressing!

#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-22 18:12:06.144812+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think Pollan did do his research and (to my reading) he didn't lump Whole Foods in with Wal*Mart, primarily because he wasn't really looking at the process of retailing or selling, he was looking at the sourcing. My favorite local grocery store, which sells a lot of organic produce, has all of the same issues that Pollan ascribes to food purchased from Whole Foods because that's largely what the market demands.

The Omnivore's Dilemma[Wiki] is about making people aware of the impacts of their decisions so that they can be more informed consumers. Whole Foods has some influence on their consumers, and has done an amazing job of educating them while marketing to them (something that Pollan acknowledges, and something I've seen in places outside the Bay Area where people I'd never have expected are now asking where their food comes from), but it's still catering to a market that expects year-round peppers and mangos and citrus in northern climes.

It's not like that market is going away (I like jicama, and I'm not going to get religiously "buy local" enough to abandon that), but it could evolve.

On the "flax seed oil going rancid" issue: What's the breakdown? Oxidizing? I take the Barlean's capsules, which I chew so I can taste if the oil is off, but they keep the oil out of contact with the air. Flax seed oil in a jar doesn't stay good for long enough for us to use it that way.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-22 18:51:56.614844+00 by: ebradway

Eating locally is more about eating seasonally - I guess that's Pollan's point. I don't eat strawberries in December but I do enjoy Grapefruit then. Because most farming, even small farms, are mono-crop or close to it. And, generally, they grow the crop that works best in that region and yields the best profits. So it's almost impossible to eat entirely locally. Growing your own is always the best bet - but that's even harder than going to the Farmer's Market.

I think the issue with flax oil is oxidation. Many flax oil producers add antioxidants, like acrobic acid, to try to extend the shelf-life. I try to get 2-4 ozs of flax oil a day. I can really feel the difference between days when my raw oil intake far exceeds my cooked oil intake and vice-versa.