Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Here is a quote from an interview with Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. I obtained the quote from here.

Q: What do you do if you don't have that $4 a pound for farmers' market nectarines?

A: We have to make healthy and sustainably grown food more accessible to people. As organic becomes bigger, the price is falling. But I also believe strongly that more of us can spend more on food than we think. There is probably 10 percent of the population, or 5 percent, that absolutely cannot afford to spend more, and we need to help them. We need to change the food assistance programs so you can buy produce.

For the rest of us, the amount of our income we spend on food is only 9 percent -- half what it was in the late '50s. So where has that money gone? It's going into entertainment, leisure -- cell phones and iPods and pay TV and all the things we think are essential. I'm not saying people shouldn't have those things. But if they were to make food a higher priority, if they were to appreciate its importance to their health and the health of the environment, they could spend a lot more. If we went back up to that 18 percent, we could revolutionize the food system.

And to the extent that we could move our food system from one based on quantity to one based on quality, we could make a tremendous impact not just on public health but on our pleasure, in everyday life. It seems to me if we're really going to move toward a different food system, we have to be a different kind of eater. The industrial eater wants strawberries 12 months a year, doesn't want to cook, wants to be able to eat that meal in a car. We have to reinvent ourselves as eaters in order to reinvent the food chain. It's all connected.

Eating seasonally is a big part of it, and giving up this obsession with convenience at all cost. And if we're really going to move to a new kind of eater, I think we really do have to rediscover cooking.

I'll close with a quote from former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop: "Out of 2.1 million deaths a year in the United states, 1.6 million are related to poor nutrition."

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