For as long as I can remember, corn has been one of my favorite summertime foods. As a kid, I loved to sit on the picnic table in our backyard shucking ear after ear of the patchwork white-and-pale-yellow Olathe sweet corn my mom would bring home by the bushel. Later I’d slather it with butter and salt and sink my teeth in the way my dog attacks a meaty beef bone.
When I got my braces in fifth grade, I learned to eat corn on the cob one row at a time to minimize the hardware-cleaning process (corn was officially forbidden by the orthodontist, but I really think I outsmarted him on this one; don’t ask about my Milk Dud incident). I always thought eating something as nutritious as a fresh vegetable — especially since I loved it so much — was worth it.
Our government and food industry both encourage more “personal responsibility” when it comes to battling the obesity epidemic and its associated diseases. They say people should exercise more self-control, make better choices, avoid overeating and reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed food. We are led to believe that there is no good food or bad food — that it’s all just a matter of balance.
A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how the more I learned about industrial agriculture and food processing, the more I felt like Neo in the movie The Matrix. Once Neo is exposed to the reality of his world (that humans are actually raised purely to create energy for machines, and a virtual reality has been created to placate the people in their “pods” so they never become aware of their predicament), he can’t go back to his previous existence — even though he probably really wants to.
Maybe it’s simply because I’m so entrenched in the food world, but I’ve been surprised by how prevalent the buzz has been for the film, Julie & Julia, which opens tomorrow. Between the Twitter feed, the Facebook updates and anticipatory articles, I feel almost like I’ve already seen the film (indeed, there have been so many clips released that I finally decided to stop watching them for fear that I’d have seen all the good parts before even getting to the theatre).
A new film from investigative journalists Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), along with producer/director Robert Kenner, digs deep into the U.S. food industry. Along the way, they uncover some very uncomfortable truths about the agriculture and meat industries, as well as the government’s seeming unwillingness to protect the American public from their dangerous and unethical practices.
Last week in my blog about responsibly-raised meat I mentioned Barbara Kingsolver’s wonderful book about eating local, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, as well as Mark Bittman’s newer book on his own forays into the messy world of our nation’s food supply, Food Matters.