I've started this blog to record my thoughts and research about food and health: how we grow our food, what we eat, the nutrition debate, food distribution, food sovereignty and environmental impact.

My life started down a new path after I read an article a couple of years ago in the New York Times magazine. I became fixated on learning all I could about our eating habits, the way our food is made, and the effects that the industrial food industry has had on our culture and our lives - physically and mentally.

This blog joins an ongoing discussion and is a place to voice interest, intrigue, and discovery. This is not a podium for lecturing, so please extend grace to each other if anything is found to be erroneous. Counter-arguments are encouraged with respect, empathy and compassion for other perspectives.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hiking a Mountain

Everyone is trying to live a good life. Everyone has a different perspective. Everyone has acquired a unique conglomeration of knowledge, and we can all benefit from sharing our knowledge in conversation.

I write these statements because I need to enact my own lesson in humility, especially because I want my blog to be real and honest. I've just read many of the reviews online of 'The Vegetarian Myth' by Lierre Keith, much to my dismay because I thought I was reading an astounding (my own word from an earlier entry) book with legitimate research. It turns out, however, that the book is quite biased, and as many of the reviews pointed out, full of logical fallacies and unqualified references.

To be fair, there are many valid arguments in the book as well, and I feel much more enthused to pursue qualified knowledge after reading this book than I did before. I'm using the embarrassment I feel about thinking this book to be well-researched as a catalyst; it's the food that triggered the serotonin receptors in my brain! (That's a jab at one of the manipulations of fact in the book.) I've realized I need to resist the urge to become hyper-energized by one source of information or one perspective, and to do my own research into the facts, and to seek the other side of an argument.

That's the ContraCrop. My goal for this blog is to explore the mountainous terrain of everything related to food. That may be insurmountable in its entirety, but I'm a stubborn fool with lots of stamina and a predilection towards the unconventional.

When you hike up a mountain, you never just walk straight up. Hiking requires many detours: around thickets, over fallen trees, along a ravine edge, downstream, or scaling up a rock face. Finding a way to the top sometimes involves hiking downhill a ways in order to start uphill again. A steep section is easiest if taken in short intervals in each direction, back and forth, to maintain traction. The detours can be frustrating, if you're on a schedule of some sort, but a hike should never only be about reaching the top - the trail is filled with intrigue and beauty. On my hike up this mountain, I'm going to need help - it's foolish to try to reach a summit by yourself. That is why I've prefaced my blog with an invitation to engage - give your comments, call me out, help me understand, share your agreement, etc..

This entry is good practice for me, as a person and as a writer, to treat detours as an integral part of the process. If any of you have read 'The Vegetarian Myth' and registered its faults, you may have already dismissed me as another fanatic, but I entreat you to extend me the benefit of the doubt. If you're further up the mountain you may be able to see further into the distance...

One experience I had in college has stuck with me: my roommate was reading Karl Marx to educate himself on socialist ideology, and a classmate asked him, in all seriousness, if he was a Communist. My parallel to that story is: I've never been obese, I've never had an eating disorder, and I've never eaten a diet without meat, yet I want to educate myself about these issues. I want to join the conversation about healthy food, how best to grow/raise it, how to make it available to and affordable for more people, and I want to learn the science behind nutrition.

It's the tallest mountain I've ever started to climb - who's with me?


  1. Be careful about criticisms you read about The Vegetarian Myth. While the book didn't always resonate for me and I didn't consider it to be about research but about a journey, many of the criticisms are from people with hidden agendas who also tilt things to their perspective. The well researched book is Good Calories, Bad Calories; which itself contains errors that the author readily acknowledges. New information comes to light after publication etc. etc., and it is what's true that we are all looking for (or so I hope).

  2. Nourishing Traditions is another interesting book.