Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Many interesting things emerging about food at a moment when we are re-evaluating our production and consumption of edibles. The Toronto Star books section had reviews of three books of interest this weekend. The first, by Stuart Laidlaw, puts agri-business on the hotseat, pointing to unsafe practices like feeding animals to animals.

This all seems pretty obvious to me, my Dad having grown up in Argentina, I have known since I was weaned on wine that the beef we have here in Canada is inferior and that the pracitce of feeding cows anything other than grass or alfalfa is reprehensible from aesthetic and saftey points of view. This, of course, does not mean that I don't eat beef. Rather, I walk considerably out of my way and pay full price for my organic beef raised without hormones or by-products. Whole Foods does the trick nicely.

However, The Atlantic Monthly points out that I'm still not getting the best bang for my buck -- a tasty cow is raised on grass, whereas a lot of organic meat is grain-fed (cheaper and more enviro-friendly) which makes the beef fatty.

Laidlaw's book apparently goes further, tackling the GMOs as well. Personally, I'm on the fence here. So far, the only solid evidence I have heard about GMOs is that they feed a lot of starving people and produce inferior tasting tomatoes.

The Star also has a review of two new books about the culture of food, reviewed by Nora Young.

Young says: Not that this obsession means we're interested in doing any actual cooking. Most of us are more removed from the actual process of planting, reaping, and cooking than ever.

This pretty much sums up my point of view on one of the fundamental problems with North American food. I remember a line from The Economist a year or so back that claimed that the number of hours spent actually preparing food in England had declined in an almost direct inverse proportion to the number of hours spent watching cooking shows.

I haven't decided what's for dinner tonight, but organic veal chops have got my taste buds tingling.