I’ve finally worked my way through The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a “must read” for anyone seriously serious about food. While well-written, insightful, and informative, I often found myself struggling to get through some chapters, as evidenced by my taking almost two months to complete the book. At the end, I simply resorted to skimming the parts that weighed down my eyelids, which in all likelihood, singlehandedly accounted for the anticlimactic sense of accomplishment of turning the final page. Upon reflection, the big points Pollan makes seem to me worth digesting: respecting the beautifully interwoven nature of the food chain and recognizing that food choice is dictated by multitudinous factors both within and without our control.
Since graduating from college, I have thought often about the food-related choices I make: what I eat, how often and with whom, where and why, and so on. As a consumer, I’m the first to admit that words like “organic”, “free-range”, and “local” strike a positive chord in me: I inherently associate them with plus value. What’s fuzzy for me, and for most I imagine, is exactly how much more valuable organic eggs are than regular ones. Is an organic egg worth three times more money than a nonorganic one (because that’s how much more it would cost to go organic with my egg consumption here in Hong Kong)?. Do I, in refusing to buy organic eggs, set an economic value on my health? Should I feel guilty about this? How would I even be sure that my health benefits from the organic-ness of the eggs I eat? The questions seem endless, and I don’t have good answers. What I do know is that my desire to eat healthfully and enjoyably is moderated by the fact that I live on a budget, one both economically and pscyhologically imposed. So I while may pause at them, I won’t buy the organic eggs at three times the price of regular ones — that goes against my sense of reason, and I value my ability to think rationally. On the other hand, show me a good tea time buffet deal at a fancypants hotel, and I’m there — talk about reason. Proof forthcoming 🙂