PBS and Food, Inc.

I have always loved food, both eating it and making it. But it wasn’t until I read Eric Schlosser’s book “Fast Food Nation” that I really started thinking about what I put in my body. Now that I have a family, I think about it all the time.

Schlosser was on a panel Saturday discussing the PBS (POV) documentary “Food, Inc.” about the frightening way food is produced in this country. He was joined by Michael Pollan, who wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and the new book, “Food Rules.”

I was able to meet Schlosser and Pollan and in true form, I was a complete spaz about it. When I saw Schlosser walking out of a PBS interview after the panel I shouted, “Fast Food Nation changed my life.”

And it had, somewhat. Unfortunately, not enough.

I talked to Pollan about a dilemma I had last week. I was at the store and I looked at the price of a half pint of organic blueberries and compared it to the 1 pound pack of conventional blueberries. The 1.5 pound was only slightly more expensive than the much smaller organic package, but my kids could have blueberries for a week (or as long as they lasted). Conventional won. According to Pollan, that was not a sound decision. He was very nice about it, though.

He said to look up the Dirty Dozen organic , which is a list of foods that you should absolutely buy organic. I already knew that blueberries were on the list.

These are hard decisions to make, especially for people who are on a budget (or are cheap). I asked him what people should do if they can’t afford to make dinner every night and fast food is so inexpensive. It’s actually cheaper to make meals at home, he said. It’s just that many people can’t invest the time.

He had some good tips such as, don’t buy cereal that changes the color of the milk and avoid “edible food-like substances.” In his own life, he and his wife and son cook their food and don’t buy processed foods.

The most frightening thing the panel talked about was how food producers are selling the inferior meat that the fast food chains don’t want to American public schools. It’s especially scary when you think about the fast food hamburger, which is mainly made up of byproducts of beef that are also used as pet food.

I don’t eat a lot of hamburgers, so the other item raised by that panel that I found personally disturbing is that Americans are eating 500 calories more a day since 1980. That’s a lot of calories and a lot of pounds.

There was some good news. What are the fast food chains that Schlosser said are ok to go to? In N’ Out and Chipotle. It turns out that we do have somewhere to go in the course of a long day when I don’t feel like cooking.