Thursday, June 29, 2006

Raw Vs. Store Bought

I wasn't planning on writing about this topic until I had more information, but Guy's post on "Raw" milk got me all fired up. There are many reasons that Ell and I choose to live an organic lifestyle. The reasons are many, but the primary one is the fact that if I don't grow it or I don't know the person that does, I worry a lot about what I eat and drink.

Guy posted about growing up drinking milk straight from the cow. He and many others who grew up the same way, saw the cow eat the grass and hay from the fields. And knowing the grass was just growing the way God intended it, nothing added or taken away, the milk from that cow couldn't have anything wrong with it. And that is a safe bet. Sure the milk could have gotten a fly in there or maybe didn't get 'fridgerated soon enough, but besides a very rare bellyache, no harm done. Today though, cows are injected from birth with udder proteins to increase the milk capacity. Their feed is supplemented with steroids and chemicals to quicken the production age and output. And even though the milk we buy has been processed many times, it's impossible to block those substances from making it onto our kitchen tables. And since they stripped the milk in the act of processing, they have to add minerals to make it healthy again. Wouldn't common sense dictate leaving that stuff in there in the first place and not have to add synthetics to make up for their absence? Of course it would, but I guess the guv'met is smarter than me!

When it comes to food I have the same opinions. Under a law passed in 1997, (I apologize for not having details, I didn't expect to be ranting about this today) corporate farmers are allowed to enhance their produce with chemicals as long as it doesn't affect the makeup of the vegetable or fruit in question. What does that mean? As long as it looks like a tomato they can do anything they want to it? Well that makes me feel safe buying it and feeding it to my family! The guv'met surely wouldn't allow anything bad to happen to me. Hopefully you're getting my sarcasm, cuz I'm laying it on pretty thick. My biggest problem with this is that they can mess with my food, even the stuff I think is fresh and healthy, without even telling me! Where does that end? How is that right?

To avoid these issues, Ell and I do a few things. The first of which is we try to grow as much of our own food as possible. I am attempting a 12-month garden this year. It takes some work, but fortunately not a lot of money. We grow specific plants for food and specific ones for seed, which becomes a never ending resource to replant anything Mother Nature or I kill. Part of that process is eating what is in season. I think we have lost the joy of watching the seasons change and the different food each one brings. It is so much fun plucking and eating fresh cherry tomatoes, picking a fresh salad for dinner right out of the garden, and cutting a fresh melon or squash still warm from the sun. Which BTW, are things that if grown in their proper season, all happen at different times of the year. The second half of that is growing them organically. We add no chemicals whatsoever to our soil or our plants. We use no pesticides or herbicides. We let our resident toad kill the bugs, and we love weeds because they make the compost that naturally feeds the plants.

I understand that not everyone can, or wants to grow their own food. The answer to that is to buy from a local farmer's market or produce stand. You can talk to the people that put their own time into what they are selling. These markets are becoming more and more popular every year. I know here in NE Ohio, I can go to 5 different markets within 15 minutes of my house. Driving home last year during the summer I counted 9 houses selling their garden-wares by the side of the road with "honor system" pay cans. There's no shortage of places to buy fresh and un-messed with produce.

Since my sister informed me my posts are too long to read, I'll wrap this up. And against my better judgment, I am going to venture into the "might offend some people" area.........Let's be honest: Most people are too lazy to worry about any of the stuff I just wrote about. It's much easier to just buy whatever you want and not worry about where it comes from or what's in it. Kids, jobs, and life make us "SO" busy we don't have the time to care. So we fain ignorance and just go on our merry way. It can't be so bad if people aren't falling over dead! Right? Wrong. Consider this medical statistic: The rate of childhood diseases and the rate of cancer cases has risen in "EXACT" proportion to the use of synthetic food additives and commercial herbicides which began in 1968. If you really care about your family's health, you should care about what they're eating! 'Nuf said!


Blogger Rob Osborn said...

I imagine that i stand a good chance of becoming the 'bad guy' for my response here...but so be it i suppose.

First of all, i commend you guys for growing your own food and carefully watching the food that you eat. It's a hard thing to do, and i wish that it was something i had more of an interest in.

That being said, I'd like to raise a couple of counter-points to your post here, Sam. I understand where you're coming from when you talk about growing and eating organic food. However, i don't think it's right or fair to assume that any and all use of chemicals and pesticides/herbicides is unhealthy and/or wrong. There are good reasons that commercial chemicals are used. Reasons that are not all bad.

One reason is, very obviously, economic. Anyone who's been to the 'organic produce' section at Giant Eagle knows that organicly grown food is much more expensive than 'regular' food (the last time i checked, organic milk was nearly $8 a gallon). There are reasons why it's more expensive to grow organically. Organic food production rates are much lower than chemically managed crops. Organic fruits and vegetables are often of lower quality (by quality i mean in actual size and in blemishes caused by harmful insects and competition with other plants).

I'm not saying that organic food isn't healthier than chemically managed food. In most cases it probably is. But i am saying that if tomorrow we outlawed all chemicals used in growing food in this country our national food supply would be in very bad shape very soon. There are reasons why we have the best food supply in the world--one of those reasons is that we use chemicals to manage our crops.

I don't have the stats to make any hard claims here. But, i don't think we should be so quick to assume that eating grocery store fruits, vegetables, and beef is going to kill us. I suspect that there are other things that, in the long run, would be better first steps--such as eliminating fast food and most sugars from our diets for example.

When we've accomplished that, then perhaps an organic lifestyle should be a next step. If i can't quit eating big macs and whoppers, all the organic lettuce i could possibly grow isn't going to save me.

Just my thoughts...i enjoy your blog, Sam. Keep writing.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Okay, before I finish my mega-post, I too have to comment.

I thought about this a lot yesterday. I was feeling like a lazy, good for-nothing... well, maybe that's extreme, but you get my idea.

So, while I too wish that I was more interested/able in growing all those fruits and vegetables(if for no other reason they always sound so good) I'm not/can't. However, I do the best I can at eating and cooking as healthy as possible and I have to figure that it'll just kill us all when it does.

Okay. I have said nothing, but for some reason Rob's comment made me feel better(I'll wait for the rebuttal to feel worse again) and I was trying to explain why but I guess I don't actually know.

He is right that Sam has a great blog though. Always something new and thought-provoking to read.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Oh Adrienne, I in no way was meaning to offend. I live a lifestyle that just isn't possible for some people. And yes, you may feel bad when you read my response to Rob's rebuttal. But hopefully it makes you feel better about trying to eat healthy too.

Can't wait to see pictures of baby Tytus!

10:08 AM  

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