Monday, November 5, 2012

RR (Omnivore's Dilemma Part III): Digging into Roots

My Aunt married into Chippewa traditions when she married my Uncle.  Therefore, I am related to two Chippewa, my Uncle and Grandma Sue, by marriage not blood.  I've always been jealous of the stories of harvesting birch bark and collecting sap to make maple syrup.  My grandma Sue (who is now considering moving into a nursing home) was still harvesting wild rice and creating bead jewelry using a needle and sewing thread and glass beads as of last year.  I have gotten peeks of this culture whenever I have visited my Aunt in Minnesota.  This concept of learning what the land can provide you mystifies me, especially as one who connects with the earth around her.  Like Pollan I too would like to make a meal at some point out of materials I had gathered myself, so I could properly thank their sources.
  The other day after class I was discussing with Katherine about crickets, and it got me to thinking along the same lines of part III of The Omnivore's Dilemma.   Human's adaptability and curiosity at one point not only found that crickets were edible, but how to make it enjoyable.  An experience.  I also love the interconnectedness between science and food.  The passage about how food was more of a drive then sex (take that Freud!) in the chapter titled "The Omnivore's Dilemma", and how brain sizes seem to correlate with it.
As a Wiccan  my only religious creed is "harm none."  Some ask me then how can I justify eating meat?  I believe in the cycle and purpose of things.  If I come back as a steer, then my purpose is to be eaten.  And then there is something my soul has to learn from that process.  After reading this book, I'm starting to wonder if I need to adjust the source of my food, so that I know it's as humane as possible, such as the Grassfeilds farm Rachel talked about in her Moo-se Your Own Adventure.  The biggest problem is budget.  I can't afford to eat with a global consciousness.  I'm a student living off caf-food.  At this point it's hard to know what to do that is morally and physically right for me.  Vegan or Vegetarianism isn't an option, although I have been cutting out meat more lately.  I can try to get involved in gathering more information or supporting individuals in crusades, such as Temple Grandin's work or watching more TED talks, but in reality it feels like an impossible task to tackle.  In a movie based off of Grandin's story, her character says, "Of course they're gonna get slaughtered. You think we'd have cattle if people didn't eat 'em everyday? They'd just be funny-lookin' animals in zoos. But we raise them for us. That means we owe them some respect. Nature is cruel, but we don't have to be. I wouldn't want to have my guts ripped out by a lion, I'd much rather die in a slaughterhouse if it was done right. In Omnivore's Dilemma in Pollan's exploration of Singer's Animal Liberation, Pollan references the argument "Why should we treat animals any more ethically then they treat one another?"  From my understanding, Grandin discovered that making cows feel comfortable and secure actually saved time and cow's lives (less drowning in the dip that protects their coats).  Even as a poor college student, if presented with the option of more cost with kindness I would take it.  The problem is this isn't an easily accessed option.
It's the little things I suppose.   Whether it's connecting to a smaller culture who gives and takes from the earth healthily, or being a part of a larger culture which I desire to do the same, the only solution I can currently think of is to take it one step at a time, much like the woman at Grassfields suggested when starting the process to get organic.


  1. I know how you feel, but like you and Rachel and the woman at Grassfields said, it's really a journey, and I guess hopefully this is a journey that more and more people will begin to take until it is a norm to be conscious of the things around us. My great great grandma was a Chippewa! Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to discussing more in class.

  2. I love the religious aspect you add to this idea, McKenna! I watched the movie about Temple Grandin and I so admire her work. I think you're right, one step at a time is the right approach to changing the way individuals eat.

  3. I'm so glad you ended up where you did with this piece, McKenna. It's not necessary to aim for perfection. And you always have options. Do what you can. Make the best choices you can within your own limits.

  4. I agree with everyone-can't change the way you eat in a day. This book definitely makes us more aware. Interesting point