Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan

Tonights book group was a short one, but very good. We gathered at 7pm at Deborah's (a last minute venue change due to an unfortunate skiing mishap) where Christine, our official hostess was putting the finishing touches on a delightful soup.

Where possible we try to use our book selection as inspiration for the meals and Christine's task required little extrapolation. The Omnivore's Dilemma (TOD) describes the science, agriculture and industrialization of the American Dinner table. Pollan has researched the origins of four meals for his family, the typical McDonalds meal, the grass fed beef meal, an organic outing, and a meal that he 'hunted and gathered' .

We ate our organic, Washington grown chicken, in season hearty vegetable soup, local cheeses with bread from the Central Baking Company in Fremont. Over our Washington wines we opted to catch up with each other rather than diving head first into the discussion. No major announcements (no new babies, jobs or marital shifting) and we were on our way.

Everyone finished the book and other than the first seventeen pages of how corn grows, and the consensus was that the book was very enjoyable. Heather liked Pollan's ability to draw the reader into his experiences so as to feel like you were experiencing it with him. It was agreed that he wasn't preachy and that if he had an agenda for writing the book that he was able to set it aside. Mel commented that if he hadn't been so likeable that he probably wouldn't have gotten the access he did to the more industrial aspects of food production. I thought he was funny and appreciated his willingness to be laughed at. A running theme was how most of the outings were before six in the morning, and the week he spent on the farm he tried to get up early, but wasn't successful.

We discussed the aspects of food production that made us stop and think. For example, does buying Organic actually help the environment if it's trucked to your store from 1500 miles away? How often do we think about the amount of oil it takes to bring us strawberries in February? How is it that most industrial corn growers sell corn for a dollar a (pound, barrel, bushel?) less than it costs them to grow it? Why is it that if the average corn fed cow could spend the last two weeks of its life dining on grass that our risk of E. coli by 80% that we don't demand it?

We felt that the book left us with hope and a realistic call to action. Everyone - even Terri the queen of frozen food acknowledged that the book has affected their relationship with food. We're reading labels more, choosing grass fed over corn fed beef, and encouraging you to check out www.eatwild.com for a list of resources for locally grown food.

At the end of the day, the moral of TOD isn't to eat a certain way, but to know and be thoughtful about the decisions you make. Oh, and McDonalds "chicken" McNuggets are bad bad bad for you!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Book List 1992 - 2005

August 4 Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley (Christine) (First meeting)
Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fanny Flagg (Jennifer)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe (Christine)
Yellow Raft on A Blue River, Michael Dorris

Ask the Dust, John Fante
Bridges of Madison County, Robert James Waller (cindy)
The Plague, Albert Camus (lisa)
The Age of Innocence, Edith Warton (cindy)
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

January – Jennifer pick???
All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy (lisa)
Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron (Christine)
Man and Superman, Bernard Shaw (brigid)
Pigs in Heaven, Barbara Kingsolver (terri)
Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Zora Neale Hurston (cindy)
The Living, Annie Dillard (jennifer)
I, Rigoberta Menchu, Rigoberta Menchu (christine)
The Gate to Women’s Country, Sheri S. Tepper (bridgit)

The Road from Coraine, Jill Ker Conway
Shipping News, Annie Proulx
The Crossing
The book of Ruth
This Boy’s Life, Tobias Wolfe
Spring Snow, Yukio Mishima (terri)

Runaway Horses, Yukio Mishima -- Christine
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen -- Paula
In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez (Kristen)
English Patient, Michael Ondaatje – Cindy
Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson (terri)
Autobiography of Alice B. Tolkas, Gertrude Stein (Christine) (Tea Party)
Regeneration, Pat Barker (Kristin)
Razor’s Edge, Somerset Maugham (cindy)

A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines (paula)
Hotel Du Lac, Anita Brookner (terri)
April 6 -- West with the night, Beryl Markham (Heather) – Deborah’s first book club
May You be the Mother of a 1000 Sons, Elizabeth Buhmiller (Christine)
Correlli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres (Kristin)
Martin Dressler, Steven Millhauser (paula)
Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner (Cindy)
To The Wedding (terri)
Ishmael, Daniel Quinn (Deborah)

January16 -- Love in the Time of the Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (heather) Whidbey get away
Temple of my Familiar, Alice Walker (Christine)
The God of Small Things, Aryundati Roy (laura)
Last Orders, Graham Swift (cindy)
Stones from the River, Ursula Hegi (Terri)
She’s Come Undone, Wally Lamb (Deborah)
The Moor’s Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie (heather)
No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin (Christine)

The Lover, Marguerite Duras (laura)
Charming Billy, Alice McDermott (cindy)
Memoirs of a Geisha (terri)
The Reader, Bernard Schlink (Deborah)
As I lay Dying William Faulkner (heather)
The Beach, Alex Garland (Christine)
Pale View of the Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro (laura)
Frankenstein, Mary Shelly (cindy)
The Bone People, Keri Hulme (terri)

Wait Till Next Year, Doris Kearns Goodwin (Deborah)
Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman (heather)
Personal History, Katherine Graham (christine) *2nd best of pick of the year
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital, Lorrie Moore (laura)
Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (Rebecca)* Best pick of the year
King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild (cindy)
The Hours, Michael Cunningham and Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Wolfe (teri)


The Red Tent, Anita Diamant (Deborah)
Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (Heather) * Best pick of the Year
Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond (Christine)
A Quiet Life, Kenzaburo Oe (Laura)
Kate Vaiden, Reynolds Price (Melinda)
The Patron St. of Liars, Ann Patchett (Cindy)
Blindness, Jose Seramago (Terri)
Becoming Madame Mao, Anchee Min * 2nd Best Pick of the Year (Deborah)

A Border Passage, Leila Ahmed (Heather) Beth’s first book club
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry (Christine)* Best pick of the Year
White Teeth by Zadie Smith (Laura)
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (Melinda)
Empire Falls, Richard Russo (beth) *2nd Choice Best Pick of the Year
Evensong, Gail Goodwin (Terri)
How to be Good, Nick Hornby (Deborah, after “killing” Killing Dr. Watson)
Honeymoon in Purda, Alison Wearing

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Her Life, Susan Hertog (Christine) *2nd Choice Best Pick of the Year
Timbuktu, Paul Aster (Melinda)
Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand – (Deborah)
Atonement, Ian McEwan
Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (Terri)*Best Pick of the Year
The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown
Moral Animal (Beth)
The Book of Illusions, Paul Auster (Melinda)

Professor and the Madman (Beth)
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (Terri)
The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, Doris Kearns Goodwin – (Deborah) * Best Pick of the Year
Power of the Dog – Thomas Savage (Heather)
The Farming of Bones, Edwidge Danticat
Old Griot, Honore De Balzac (Christine)

Three Junes, Julia Glass (Melinda?)
Time Travelers Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (Terri)
The Magician’s Assistant, Anne Patchett (Deborah)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith (Michelle)
Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder (Heather)
The Working Poor, David Shipler (Christine)
The Book Borrower, Alice Mattison (Melinda?)
The Kite Runner, Khaled Husseini (Whose pick was this??)
The Cave, Jose Seramago (Terri)

Best Fiction: Time Traveler (4) and Kite Runner (3)
Best Non Fiction: Mountains Beyond Mountains (4)
Worst: Book Borrower (6)
Best Overall: Time Traveler #1 and Mountains Beyond Mountains #2