Thursday, February 7, 2008


Thanks so very much to everyone for your kind and supportive words and positive thoughts. I cannot begin to express how much I appreciate it. Our hope now is that whoever these theives are have gotten what they wanted and are finished with us. Time will tell, but there are some online servies to help people protect themselves and we are taking advantage of that.

I've been reading Hope's Edge since early January. It's taken me much longer to read than books normally do, I suspect because it is so dense and there is so much information to take in. Hope's Edge was written by Frances Moore Lappe and her daughter Anna Lappe. Frances Moore Lappe is also the author of Diet for a Small Planet, a pro-vegetarian book written in the 70s.

In the past few years, I've felt as though I was educating myself about issues with our food supply. Michael Pollian's The Omnivore's Dilemma was my book-of-the-year for 2007. But reading Hope's Edge made me ashamed to realize that I hadn't really been thinking about the issue as globally as I should have. The issue in this book is hunger and what can be done about it. Lappe suggest five 'thought traps' that block us from solving this problem:

1. We need to produce more food - there is not enough.
2. Humans are selfish and competetive.
3. Leave it in the hands of experts.
4. We must dissect the problems and tackle them piece by piece.
5. The present system of global capitalism is the best we can do.

The Lappes set out to prove that things can be accomplished and they travel around the globe investigating people and organizations that are trying to make a real difference in people's lives. From Alice Waters' schoolyard garden in California to helping people homestead land in Brazil. To providing loans in Bangladesh to planting trees in Kenya. More countries, more ideas for solutions, finally ending in Madison, Wisconsin where the local, organic, sustainable movement is growing. Lappe admits that all of these solutions are not perfect. But these people and organizations are trying and that is what is important - versus not trying at all.

It's just maddening to read that we would have enough grain to feed the world if it weren't being fed to animals who shouldn't be eating it anyway. That grains grown around the world are exported to feed animals in developed countries while people go hungry. That the huge seed and pesticide companies like Monsanto go to places like small, remote, Indian villages and convince farmers to use their products for a nominal fee. Within a few years, the prices go up, the farmers cannot afford these products and their soil is destroyed by the pesticides so it's difficult and time-consuming to return to their previous 'organic' methods.

While I was reading this book an article appeared in my newspaper about Haitians eating cookies made of mud. People are so hungry and so poor they are eating dirt and feeding it to their children. It is so shameful that this occurs.

So what to do? I keep asking myself that. Obviously Lappe advocates a vegetarian diet. This book has a nice section full of recipes by well-known cookbook authors and chefs. I'll be honest - I don't really want to be a vegetarian - I want to eat meat sometimes and I can make good choices about where that comes from. My family does not want to be vegetarians either. We don't eat a lot of meat - generally only with dinner and not every day. I've been trying to challenge myself to consciously serve vegetarian meals more often - and not just pasta with sauce that shows up regularly anyway. Last week I prepared the mushroom stuffed portobellos with wild rice and cheese from Mollie Katzen's The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without. It was good - but it took a little convincing for my daughter. I think it was a little bit too brown for her. So I'm trying on that front and collecting recipes to try.


Carrie K said...

Vegetables have a weirdly bad rap and I'm not sure why.

I'm so sorry to hear about your troubles!

nutmeg said...

Hi Tara! Firstly let me say I am saddened to hear of your recent troubles - computers/internet/credit cards etc etc are wonderful and convenient but the bad side of them has been emerging over recent times - fraud of this kind terrifies me. I hope things are getting better on this front for you.

Also, sorry for the delay on saying hi - it seems my one post after my return was too early - I am only just starting to see time for blogging - in this way I really need my routine!

I have just spent a lovely half hour reading your last 24 posts - yes, it has been that long! But thanks for mentioning the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day - I'll have to add it to my list and wait for that reprint. I am continually amazed at our similar tastes - we seem to pull out of the book world the rather more obscure reads - I also recently purchased The Ghost Map by STeven Johnson and I have been "researching" Anya by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer. It seems this book is mostly loved but a few highly dissenting reviewers have put me off - but not any longer! As you know I also love the Up Series - recently purchased the whole series! And I have just ordered Cranford from UK Amazon - it has not been aired hear at all yet- I think I want to read the book first - but I'm not sure if I can hold out once the dvd arrives :-)

Anyway, it was great to read you again and again I hope that other matter is resolved as soon as possible.

nutmeg said...

Also, I forgot to add that our bookclub recently discussed Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma (my choice - after purchasing the book some eight months ago). It was really well received and sparked much discussion - I of course absolutely loved it. I think it was our highest scored book of all time! I will post about it at some stage. I too have ordered his new one.

LK said...

I am ordering this book now! I started eating vegetarian (though not strictly yet) after I got traveler's sickness and to tell you the truth I don't really miss meat all that much. I support the local growers,too. Thanks for pointing this book out, Tara!

Camille said...

I love reading about all the books you're reading in this vein. I'll definitely be on the lookout now for some of the ones you've mentioned. Our family doesn't eat meat that much, either, mostly with dinner and not everyday like you. We also eat somewhat vegan because our three-year-old is allergic to dairy and eggs, so that has broadened our cuisine more, actually, than narrowing it.

Cath said...

An interesting and thought provoking post on a subject I think a lot about too. Like you we don't want to be vegetarian but we do grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables and freeze them for the winter, so I think that's a start. I really do think this is going to become a huge issue as this century progresses because we really can't keep on the way we are going. And I agree with you that the role of some of the huge companies is just shameful. Really all some of them think about is money and profits.

Tara said...

Carrie, I don't know why either! I love vegetables! Though my husband eats them willingly, he wouldn't say the same.

Nutmeg, so, so good to hear from you! I enjoyed your thoughts so much I don't know where to begin... but will say again how exciting it is to 'know' someone around the world from me who has such similar tastes - such a thrill. I think (and hope!) you will enjoy Anya, and I know you will enjoy Cranford - the movie. I am currently reading the book as well as Michael Pollan's new one. So glad your bookclub enjoyed TOD..if only I could get my bookclub to read such a book. They are, for the most part, really into processed foods and food trends.

LK, I am glad Hope's Edge sounds good to you! It was written in 2001 so I'm sure some things have changed to a degree but this was still a fascinating read.

Camille, Thank you for saying so - and I have more where that came from! How interesting and teriffic that you feel your son's allergy has broadened your cuisine - I can see how that would open a family to trying new things. Those allergies are so frightening, though.

Cath, It sounds like you are doing well, growing and freezing - I often wish I had more room, but I do like living on my small plot in the city. I couldn't agree more with what you've said regarding the issue and that changes need to be made - I'm only one person but I wish I could make a difference with this issue. I find it's sometimes hard to bring up with people because food is such a personal thing.

Nan said...

Your last sentence, Tara, in response to Cath is sure the truth. Food is indeed so personal. I've begun my book report on In Defense of Food (I often work on it as I read a book) and I talk about this. Maybe because Tom and I aren't preachers, but most probably because people want to eat what they want to eat, we know of not one person who has looked at our eating and said, wow I want to do that. I also feel that the long-lasting vegetarians and vegans are the ones who go into in for compassionate reasons. It is almost a type of religion for us. You are so right that this is one of the huge problems in the world, and has been building for a long time. I also think that often meat eaters think vegetarians eat a lot of broccoli and nachos, whereas many of us eat very grain and bean based diets, like so many in the world. Geez, this is practically a blog entry in itself, so I'll quit. :<) Do you visit Katie's gardenpunks blog? She, and you give me hope for the world.

Bybee said...

When I eat strictly Korean, I know I'm better off because meat is more of a side dish. If it's not on the menu at all, they work in protein in creative ways so you feel satisfied after a meal. If I do ever decide to go completely meatless, I won't have any questions on how to do it properly, i.e, meaning in a way that wouldn't cause me to backslide.

Eva said...

This sounds like an important book-I'm already a veggie, and it sounds like it'll give me new things to talk about when people ask why!

Tara said...

Nan, I really appreciate reading your thoughts and experience being a vegetarian. It's very helpful to me as I contemplate what I want to serve my family - and what they will accept. What you said about it being like a religion really struck me. I hadn't visited gardenpunks - but I really enjoyed reading it - thank you for the link. Your kind words humble me.

Bybee, thank you for your comment - I so enjoy learning about the diet of different cultures. Eating meat as a 'flavoring' is one way I'm trying to cut back.

Eva, I thought it was an important book and may I ask what made you decide to become vegetarian? I'm just interested in what makes people 'tick'.

Nan said...

Not connected to this post, but how is it out there in icebox of the nation-land? :<) -17 F. here this morning.

heather (errantdreams) said...

Oh my word. I'm so sorry to hear about your financial woes. It's such a tragedy that there seems to be no way for these phishers to get caught and put out of business---they just keep right on going. I do hope things clear up soon. Best wishes for a speedy clean-up!

Tara said...

Nan, it was a balmy + 4 degrees this morning! Brrr - stay warm!

Heather, thank you for your kind words. I wonder the same - do these people ever get caught? It sickens me. And they bought the dumbest stuff with my credit card, I have to say!