Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Personal Dilemma

I am currently reading Michal Pollan’s excellent book “Omnivore’s Dilemma.” In the book, Pollan strives to answer the seemingly simple question, “What should we eat for dinner?” The first section of the book deals with the incredible amount of acres of corn being grown here in the US and where it all ends up. The majority goes to huge, industrialized feeding lots and to factory-feed animals. The surplus corn finds its way to almost every other food product on the grocery shelves in the form of sugar. (We do love us some sweet food!)

The early pages also lay out the closely intertwined relationship between the corn farmers and the USDA. Pollan highlights the balance between how much corn is grown and how it is being subsidized by the government. He also explains the issue of fossil fuels used in the fertilization and transportation of our food.

The second section of the book has been about the fascinating relationship between grass and animals and us, the consumers. The focus here is on what ‘organic’ means to the average joe, trying to put something healthy on the table. It’s not difficult to realize that most ‘organic’ has become a part of the American industrialized food machine. But, not all. Pollan introduces us to some awesome farmers who, through the science of old fashioned farming, have successfully carved out a place for ‘clean’ food in this world. No pesticides. No antibiotics. No fertilizers. No fossil fuels.  Just sun, grass, animals and us. Amazing.

So, what are we supposed to eat for dinner? Well, I haven’t finished the book yet, and I don’t know what a regular person like me is supposed to do about the ‘omnivore’s dilemma’; I can only answer for myself.

And this brings me to my own personal and very real dilemma! What should I serve at my upcoming dinner party????? I am almost in a panic. 12 people expect to eat something remarkable in 8 short days, right here in my house!

I was all set to go totally vegan: Homemade Hummus, Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Quinoa Pilaf Stuffed Peppers, Grilled Portabellas, Big Salad (with the most delicious cashew dressing I have ever tasted), Roasted Tomatoes…. and a killer vegan Chilled Double Chocolate Torte.
….but then, I chickened out and began leaning toward the classic St. Patrick’s Day menu: Glazed Corned Beef, Twiced Baked Potatoes, Roasted Carrots and Braised Cabbage….maybe with a Triple Layer Mocha Chocolate Cake (also killer!)

Your thoughts? 


  1. Why not mix the menu? Make some St. Patrick's day classics along with a The salad and the vegan Chocolate torte.

    And remember, even though vegan is "cool" right now, we're not built physiologically to eschew animal products entirely. A strict vegan diet could cause a lot of health problems 20-30 years from now.

    Sounds good, though either menu.

  2. Great idea, Judy! I never thought to mix the menu like that! Silly me!

  3. You can do the St. Patrick's Day menu, just a healthy version of it.

    I'm intruiged by this book- perhaps I'll put it on hold at the library! We always LOVE meeting the farmers at the farmer's market- most of them are more than willing to tell us how their veggies are grown. It's when we get into the grocery store that I get all perplexed....and THEN there's the budget to consider!

  4. Sandy, you would love this book. I like that the author is not 'preachy' in any way what-so-ever. Just tells it like it is. And I know what you mean about the sticker shock!

  5. I like Judy's idea of mixing the menu. I know it's hard when you have a mix of people and all of them have different ideas on what they will and won't eat. It's great you care about them. Make the chocolate torte for sure and as long as you end the meal on a high note I'm sure they won't even notice what you did and did not include at the main meal. I'm not a corned beef fan, so St. Patty's day is always a hard day for me to decide what to fix. Lol. Sounds like a good read.

  6. I'm all for the St. Patrick's Day menu. I just ordered 2 grass-fed beef briskets from a local farmer that they cure naturally. It's awesome. Plus the carrots, cabbage, and potatoes are all inexpensive winter vegetable. I've read the "Omnivore's Dilemma" and think it's pretty good. I really like "Folks, this Ain't Normal," "Organic Manifesto," and lots of other food books, too! I have been eating a more traditional diet and believe we need animal products. I know a lot of awesome local farmers where I get almost all of our meat.

  7. Amy, I really need to find a local farmer where I can get grass fed beef. And thanks for the suggestions for good books. I am constantly reading something.

    Gina, click back on my blog to see how I prepare my corned beef....not fatty and not greasy at all. I make a simple brown sugar glaze that is really good.

  8. ....and YES, Fiona, to Irish coffee!

  9. Go for the vegan menu! You can do it! You already have it planned and it looks totally amazing! It's a great introduction for folks to know that anything (and everything!) can be made vegan and that vegan food is real food. It's just plants and plant-based foods rather than animals and animal-based foods! And you would be responsible for introducing your guests to an awesome style of cooking and eating, whether or not you explicitly say it is vegan.

    You don't even have to tell them the food is vegan! It is just delicious food. You can just say it is sustainable, or don't say anything at all if you don't want to! I often don't bother mentioning that my food is vegan, and everyone loves it.

    It's really fun to introduce people to new and wonderful vegan foods, don't be scared!

    Good luck whatever you decide to do!

    Vegan Fazool Blog

    1. Dawn! You are so encouraging!! I love that!

  10. I really love that book. Funny because I was thinking I have to re-read it since it was such a long time ago when I first read it. When I have a lot of people over I always throw a leg of lamb in the oven and make Salmon with lots of sides. That is my 'go to' menu of choice :)

    1. Nadia, I am really loving the book. I thought I would not enjoy the last section (where Pollan prepares a meal from food he had killed/grown/ foraged) but I am loving that part too.

  11. Hi Tracy!
    I think it depends on your guests. If family & ,close friends, I would go with vegetsrian , ,just to show that healthy food can be delicious. If the guests are others, I'd stick with.traditional fare & substitute a side dish or two; mix things up!
    Also, you know how bad corned beef is for you. Yuck!
    Good luck.deciding! I hope you are all well. Love, Sue

    1. Sue, Thanks for the comment - yes, I would love to go all vegetarian/vegan, but I decided to be more traditional this year. I have 3 huge corned beefs thawing in my fridge! Lots of meat eaters on the guest list, so I think it's important to accommodate them and make them feel welcomed.


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