Recently I stumbled upon Anna Lappè and Bryant Terry’s book Grub. Over the past few months I had been learning a lot about our food system and trying to integrate what I was learning into my life by changing the way I eat. Honestly, this was becoming a bit overwhelming – there is so much to learn, so many books to read, so many documentaries to watch, and so many practices to incorporate into my life. I wish I would have come across Grub earlier in my reading – it lays out a critique of our food system, gives compelling reasons for making changes, and then gives you empowering ideas on how to make a difference in the way you eat.
If you are curious about our current food system and what you can do to change it, I encourage you to read Grub. In it, Lappè and Terry lay out a critique of our food system; give ideas for eating “Grub” – healthy, local, sustainable, fair and universal food; and provide seasonal recipes for your kitchen. The book introduces six illusions of our modern food system (that we have choices, that our food is safe and clean, that the system is efficient, fairness exists, our food is cheap, and there is progress), which succinctly explain why we need to take steps toward a new food system. And even more encouraging, Lappè gives us success stories of local farmers, along with concrete steps we can take as individuals for a healthier, just, and sustainable food system.
In Grub, Lappè mentions the Environmental Working Group’s(EWG) 2003 study about which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residue on them, or in other words, which are the most important – to your health – to eat organically. You can access the list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables and the fifteen “cleanest” fruits and vegetables on the EWG website. This list can be helpful for people who are trying to eat healthier but may not be able to buy all organic food.
So I mentioned that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed about food, but am taking some steps to change the food I eat. Why am I doing all this? There is more to it than the health reasons: exposure to pesticides has been linked to many toxic effects. Though keeping these chemicals from entering my body seems like enough of an incentive to me, there is also a justice component to eating organically.