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Off Mic

What is the Omnivore's Dilemma?

Off Mic

Meat has always been a primary staple of the human diet. But the American lifestyle of abundance and excess has lately given us a strange, schizophrenic relationship with meat. Either we eat way too much of it or we fall back on our puritanical roots and reject it altogether. No doubt... most Americans eat too much.

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Caron Golden from San Diego
July 31, 2008 at 06:13 PM
I'm an unapologetic meat eater but I'm certainly trying to take more care with what I eat, how much of it, and where it comes from. Grass-fed beef, for instance, is much better for us than grain-fed and yet trying to find it in San Diego retail outlets has been a challenge. I've discovered a number of online sources and in Coronado, Boney's is selling Estancia Beef from Uruguay. But, that is a mammoth-size carbon footprint I don't want to leave. I'm very excited that Matt Rimel is opening up a butcher shop next to Zenbu in La Jolla where he'll be selling local grass-fed beef from the Mt. Palomar area. Did anyone even realize we have cattle ranching in San Diego County? I don't know if it will be prohibitively expensive but it is an alternative to what has been offered locally so far. And, of course, the idea is to eat meat in moderation so that huge grilled rib eye once considered a "man-size" portion could really serve two or three people as part of a healthier diet.

Diana from La Mesa
August 06, 2008 at 06:43 PM
I read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" about a year ago now and it has greatly contributed to the evolution of my food purchasing and consumption habits. I had been noticing reduced energy levels and a general lack of a sense of well-being for several years before reading the book. According to the Dr., I was "healthy" even though I didn't feel healthy. I was also noticing an increased intollerance for antibiotics, despite the fact that I almost never take antibiotics. Shortly before reading the book, my sister (who lives in Oregon) introduced me to the concept of Community supported agriculture (CSA) . After reading the book, I started looking into CSAs here in San Diego much more intently. At this point in time, I am a member of a CSA, I was able to find a local rancher who was raising a grass-fed steer and I bought interest in 1/4 of the steer. I have also built a chicken coop and have 6 young chickens (hopefully all hens) that are helping to control insects around my yard and should start laying eggs in a few months. I also grow additional fruits and vegetables that I don't get through the CSA. I have lost some weight and my energy is getting better (as long as I get enough sleep). The interesting thing is that I am eating a wider variety of foods now than I ever did before in my life. I highly recommend it!

Lisa from Mission Hills
August 07, 2008 at 05:30 PM
The Omnivore's Dilemma was the first in a series of books that opened my eyes to the industrial food chain that we have created in this country. I have always cared greatly about the quality of the food I buy and where it comes from. I thought I knew a lot about those things, but I really had no idea how [intentionally] opaque our culture's current food system is. What I learned from reading those books changed the way I shop and cook for my family, and I'm still muddling through it a year later. Sometimes I feel like I'm from another planet because I'm trying to check out of the industrial food chain...I no longer buy or eat bread that isn't bread, cheese that isn't cheese, meat that comes from animals that are treated so badly that they have metabolic disease, etc. It's hard to figure out how to do that, though, because industrial food is so pervasive. Here's where I'm at right now. I shop at the Hillcrest Farmer's market for the fruits and veggies I can't figure out how to grow myself, and buy grass-fed beef, milk and cheese from pastured cows, and MSC certified fish at Whole Foods. Looking forward to making Matt Rimel's butcher shop part of my routine. I started a small flock of chickens that roam freely in my urban backyard...they turn slugs and snails into eggs, and they are wonderful pets...how excellent is that?? I buy organically grown flour that my bread machine turns into bread and pasta for me (trying to figure out how to afford solar energy to run that guy). I bought an interest in half a pig from a farmer at the farmer's marked; it worked out to less than $2 per pound of the best pork I've ever had, so I can't wait to do it again. I'm still looking for local chicken that has been raised on grass pasture (mine are pets so I couldn't kill them even if I had the nerve), so chicken has been rare on our plates for awhile now. I find I'm remembering things from when I was little, in the early 60s, from when I watched my grandparents in their backyard. They grew most of their own food sustainably, with almost zero carbon footprint, without even thinking about the greater good. It was just what they knew how to do. I think we've lost a lot of that cultural knowledge, and the messages we get from big food companies (that they know how to feed us and we don't) aren't helping. Marion Nestle's books are a big eye opener on that topic. The hardest thing about all of this is finding time to make all of it happen while working at a full time job. But I'm with Diana from La Mesa...I eat a wider variety of foods and feel better than I ever have. My husband's cholesterol level has dropped to a normal range, and we eat like kings. I'm finding that a lot of people I know are learning from what I'm doing and changing their habits as a result, so I feel good about that too.