Last year I decided to get all “make more food at home” and really learn more about where our food comes from and how to get my family a little closer to the source.

Here’s what I’ve learned, in a nutshell:

The food supply/chain in this country is a massive, gargantuan cluster fuck. (Sorry about the language, there folks. Sometimes the ‘f’ word is the only one that will do.)

So, breaking it down for you, I started cooking more meals from scratch, like the chicken, when I shoved my hand up the chicken’s butt. (It was dead! I swear!)

I made home-made macaroni and cheese and it was good. Really, really, really good. Plus, I now know what roux is. Big bonus – I CAN MAKE ROUX.

We planted a garden, and grew wonderful things like carrots, hops for SubHub’s beer, sunflowers – which we harvested and toasted ourselves:

and some lovely mutant corn:

I promised I wouldn’t do a drive-thru. I failed that. The lure of the easy meal was too much for me and I succumbed. I limited my drive thru experiences to Taco Time and Burgerville with one quick foray into McDonald’s because they were offering American Girl-themed Happy Meals and the begging got to be too much for me and I couldn’t handle it anymore and I’m weak and I gave in and I’m SORRY! OK?

What inspired me to start on this little journey was a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Now, last December, I was half-way through it and, of course, in true SubMommy style, left it on a plane. But what I had read so far had me thinking.

So I started reading more. There were articles I found, online resources, and books.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Many of the pesticides used on produce are completely toxic to humans.
Corn has taken over the world, basically.
Cows eat grass. They even have a special stomach called a Rumen for it. Shocking, I know.
Chickens eat insects and seeds. Another shocker.
Lambs eat grass.
Pigs, in the wild, forage around for leaves, berries, grasses, roots, fruits and flowers.

Yet, why are they being force-fed corn? Because our government, in it’s infinite wisdom, pays farmers a subsidy to grow corn, leaving us with a massive surplus that ends up being processed into everything from pseudo-plastic straws to – you guessed it – animal feed. Cows get fed this corn feed along with some other fun things like sawdust, rendered animal parts (not legal in the U.S. by the way). (source – The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan)

Would you like ketchup with your processed sawdust? Oh! Wait! It has CORN syrup in it.

Did you know that soy isolates – the stuff you find in just about everything because, you know, soy is a WONDER food (
I don’t know about you, but I’d kind of like my sweet Boy Child to STAY a boy.

And oh my friends. I have only scratched the surface.

If you want to know more, read these books:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. The book that started it all.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Young Reader’s Edition – I’m reading this one right now. I would like, ultimately to include Girl Child and eventually Boy Child in learning about this subject. Hence the Young Readers edition.

Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels. She has some serious credibility with me….she’s changed her own body and her own life, so that tells me ‘Been There Done That and I know what I’m talking about.’

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbra Kingsolver. A fascinating read about how the Kingsolver family ate what they grew and raised for a year, peppered with all kinds of interesting information about just what goes into getting the burger and fries to your table.

You Are What You Eat by Gillian McKeith. She hosts a show on BBC America of the same name. I’ve never known more about poo than I do now. Greasy diet? Greasy, slimy poo! Who knew?

And finally, what I now consider a necessity in every thinking woman’s (or man’s – I’m an equal opportunity blogger) kitchen…..A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. A dictionary-style book that has been invaluable to me when I purchase food, or look in my pantry and see an ingredient that makes me think “What the hell is THAT?” The food additive dictionary tells me.

I’ll continue on my journey through the food web again this year…..stay tuned…..

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