Monday, November 12, 2007

Okay, I'll admit it. I've been ashamed to blog for a while, as a result of my continuing inability to correctly pick MLB Division Series. All four wrong. Ouch - nobody said picking playoff series was easy, but even 1-3 has a distinctly different look than 0-4.

So, I apologize and beg for forgiveness for my horrible picks. Next year, perhaps I'll attempt to pick them, and simply pick the opposite, and hope karma won't see through it.

Aside from that, we slowly get underway in hockey, NBA, and college basketball; college football nears bowl season, and the NFL hits the halfway point - not my favorite time of the sporting year, but at least there's stuff on.

In Books, I'm almost finished with Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, very much one of the "it" books of 2006 - in which Pollan takes a look at how food makes it from its origins to your table, through the industrial food chain, two types of organic ones, and a hunting-and-foraging one. It's very depressing in that it basically tells us how terrible most of the food that most of us buy is - health-wise for us, for the environment, and for the animals we eat (obviously, they die, but how they live is not perhaps how we'd like to imagine they do before they do die).

However, what I appreciate, is it passes my basic tests for writing a muckraking non-fiction work. First, it's written with a very practical, relatable, and perhaps most importantly non-self-righteous. As silly as it seems, this book would be far less effective if it was written by a vegan or a vegetarian. Even beyond that, Pollan doesn't come off as a food and environmental snob (not too much of one anyway) - he clearly cares for both, perhaps more than many readers, but at the same time doesn't appear to judge the reader for the choices they make, and admits that it's hard for the normal supermarket entrant to know or consider much of this information.

Second, Pollan at least makes some attempt to offer an alternative. Now, the problem here, is that ultimately, in today's world, the alternatives are largely infeasible - first, pasture-fed animals, and local, organic (not in the USDA narrow definition, but in a more holistic sense) grown fruits, vegetables and food, and barring that, which is many areas is simply not possibly, especially cities, farm markets, and CSAs, or "Community Sponsored Agriculture," programs in which farmers pair with community groups who arrange for a share of the vegetables and/or fruits grown at a local farm. While these are not entirely practical for many people - because of cost, availability and other factors, I do appreciate the effort - and as you read you feel like Pollan doesn't expect you to jump off you couch and head down the local farm and inspect their chicken slaughterings; he hopes that you'll rethink about what your food, but seems to understand many of the considerations of modern life.

Okay, I'll try this number rating thing again:

The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan: 8.7

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