Friday, August 28, 2009

In Defense of Food - Reaction, Discussion and Off to the Kitchen and Garden!

Welcome to the August Book Club Post! I'm lucky enough to host this month's discussion of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Check out other titles the group has read, see what's coming up next, and join in!

I have to say that I think In Defense of Food is the best book I've read by Michael Pollan. Here he accomplishes what he sets out to do - offer up an eating plan backed up by common sense, history, and science - with great writing. I haven't read Second Nature or A Place of My Own yet, but of the food books, this one is, well, the bomb-diggity.

Thought-provoking, disturbing, depressing, but also inspiring, In Defense of Food made me realize how much I had bought into the concept of nutritionism. It also made me grateful for my little Tokyo garden, canning, and my mother for sharing my grandmother's recipes and family traditions. It also made me hungry for kale, but that's not hard to do.

Pollan also made me think about the Japanese diet I predominantly eat now in a different light. Since coming here in March of this year, R and I have both lost more than 15 pounds. We haven't tried to lose the weight, and to some degree I thought I would gain (The mochi is nearly irresistable, after all). However, I would attribute it to eating a more whole food based diet along with a more active lifestyle.

A traditional food culture is still quite strong here, although the Western Diet is making inroads via McDonald's, other fast food restaurants, and processed foods at groceries and convenience stores. Miso, tofu, seaweed, fish, rice, an assortment of noodles, and more than I could list here are still held in high regard and are a part of daily meals. I also realized during our recent trip to Hokkaido that the Japanese love food, and celebrate foods from different regions of the country with gusto. Travel posters everywhere feature a variety of foods from all across Japan more than just about anything else. The first question asked when we returned was "What did you eat?"

Now, before I head out to the garden to gather up some fresh veggies, here's a list of discussion questions:

- What did you think of Pollan's list of rules to follow? Anything missing or unnecessary?

- Pollan talks about a revolution of food sweeping America. Do you agree?
If yes, how deep do you think it goes?
What role do you think you might play in it?
If not, why not? What's missing?

- Would you recommend this book to someone who someone who is not a "member of the choir"? Why or why not?

- Pollan also mentions that that there are those who cannot afford to do this, but never delves much into what to do about that. He simply says that those who can afford to do it should. What do you think of that? What can we do about it?

- What other books would you recommend with this one to someone just beginning to be interested in this topic?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A New Kind of Container Garden

I spotted the words gorilla gardening in a recent email from, and followed the link to find this most awesome trailer about a truck garden in Brooklyn. What's new about a truck garden? Well, this one struck my fancy as it is, literally, a garden in a truck. It wends its way around Brooklyn to its CSA customers delivering vegetables about as fresh-picked as they can come. One of the best uses yet for one of those big old things.

More on The Truck Farm
Visit Wicked Delicate for more films on the Truck Farm and to learn more about what Curt and Ian (I'm not really on a first name basis with them, of course.) are brewing up. FYI, these are the folks who brought you King Corn.

Check out this post at Inhabitat for a ton of good links to Truck Farm and other nifty notions in the Big Apple.

(Image courtesy of Curt and Ian at Wicked Delicate.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

One Idea for Next Year's Garden

A friend shared this link about rice paddy art. My little adventure planting rice with One Life Japan resulted in something beautiful, but not quite like this...Check out the link for even more amazing images.