Thursday, 21 April 2011

Theory Exam Day

Sorry for the slack in posts, this last week has been hectic- catering at work, painting the entire restaurant, oh and exams.

My last post as I'm on my way to the exam for this class and about to hand this assignment in.

I would have liked to answer all the questions and get into some actual discussions but with only one follower that is a little difficult (ps. thank you Rebecca!). Who knows maybe I'll keep up this blog it was kinda fun.

I enjoyed this project! And this theory class, way more relevent and informative than last semesters class/assignment.

I hope this has been an informative and interesting blog I thought it was a good way to end the year and program.

Off to write, submit this assignment, and have a pint!


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Question 8:Is the capitalistic model (getting the most from the least) a good one for food production?


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Question 7: What concerns you about the way you eat or the way your food is produced?

To be honest, not a whole lot.
I think I've reached this zen like state about it. Its all very calming to me.

I know that my partner and I eat pretty healthy, and we are completely aware when we do not. Our bodies are pretty on top of letting us know, we both take health pretty seriously and will detox if we feel that we've been consuming too many toxins or gmo's!

We try to eat as much organics as possible but when we can't we don't its that simple.
We both love food, but we love good and wholesome food. If it came down to paying our Internet bill or buying our months worth of organic and healthy groceries - the groceries would win.

We both really like sooo that's saying a lot!

When it comes to how our food is produced... well its upsetting that companies like Monsanto exist and control our food, this is just more motive to go organic and local in my mind.

Question 6: What health problems can be linked to modern food production?


High blood pressure

Heart disease

And one that should have the most impact on us as food industry professionals....

Allergies or intolerance's 

The culprit ! 


These are only a few of the health problems associated with our food today, however if we are not nourishing our bodies and getting the proper amount of physical activity we are also to blame.

Question 5: What is an 'Industrial Eater'?

We are all industrial eaters.... in some way.
I don't think that I can say that I know anyone who has a diet of only organic products, or only food that they have grown/hunted themselves.
However I suppose the more straightforward answer is... someone whose diet is completely based on mass produced, corn pumped, pesticide covered, industrial food. Again... we all eat it.

Here is a true example of an industrial eater:

Monday, 11 April 2011

Question 4: How do you feel about monocultures as they relate to crops?

Here is a clip from the documentary "The Future of Food", another recommendation if this is something you want to learn more about.

If this clip hasn't already answered the question (How I feel about monoculture's as they relate to crops), the answer is... TERRIFIED!

Whats the saying about history repeating itself? As the clip mentions, the potato famine in Ireland is a perfect example as to why monoculture crops are not sustainable nor are they logical.  And Monsanto is completely destroying our food supply, first by genetically modifying the seeds, then planting the monoculture crops, and then allowing these crops to build up resistance to the pesticides that their company has also created.... this whole scenario sounds like one major disaster and they scary part is how much of the food supply they control.

Soo again, just so we are clear.... I think monoculture's are horrifying.

Hunting Q&A with Michael Pollan

I came across an article that Michal Pollan wrote for the New York Times about hunting, it was similar and on par to his descriptions in the book. I wanted more than just descriptions on how he felt in tune with the freshly turned soil by the old oak tree.

I wanted his opinions and thoughts about hunting for sustainable food and for sport.

Here is some answers to some really great questions submitted by readers of The New York Times.

Questions For . . .Michael Pollan
Published: March 29, 2006
Michael Pollan, the author of The Botany of Desire and a recent cover article in The Times magazine answers readers' questions on how and why we hunt, gather and eat.

Ken Light
Q. 1. Why did we decide that it was acceptable behavior to raise farm animals in the deplorable conditions that exist on our factory farms? Will you please follow this article with one that takes you into a factory farm let's say a pig farm in North Carolina, assist in the processes of maintaining the mother pig during her pregnancy, birthing, raising and slaughtering her baby pig on such a farm, and witness and report on what the environmental and human repercussions are in this process? After all, if you were going to eat meat, you should learn how the meat that makes its way onto your table gets there, not how to hunt.
- Liz Heebner, Basking Ridge, N.J.

A. Liz: I couldn't agree more. Actually I have done a piece, for The Times, on factory farming: Power Steer, published in March 2002, took me to a cattle feedlot and slaughterhouse. I haven't eaten industrial beef since. I'm curious to visit a confinement hog operation, but doubt I could get in.
Q. 2. Hunters are commonly portrayed as men who hunt to reassert their masculinity. What then do you think of female hunters? What drives them to seek out animals to harvest? Are they innately more "masculine" than their non-hunting counterparts, or is it more a question of environment and conditioning?
- Tiarella Hanna, Guelph, Ontario

Tiarella: This question is better asked of female hunters. I have known a few, and don't necessarily think they're especially masculine. The anthropologists tell us that women were more often the foragers, and whether their mental and physical tools better equip them to forage than hunt is a question. (Though many of the skills — such as extreme attentiveness to the environment — are the same; hunting does require more physical strength, however.) All of which is say, I don't know, but it's an interesting question.

Q. 3. You said you had done some reading on disgust to better understand your revulsion. Did you also do some reading on gratitude especially as it relates to the killing of animals in some cultures? I'm thinking of the ritual invocation that is a part of the prescribed method for killing animals for meat in Islam. I think some Native American tribes did (or do) the same — and there are probably other cultures where this practice is still alive. The powerful feeling of gratitude you experienced immediately after the successful shot is something most people can't identify with anymore. We're familiar with a diminished form of thankfulness, but that surge of gratitude you experienced, without conscious effort, seems rare. Another brain chemical that has lost its trigger in modern life?
- Roberta Austin, Annapolis, Md. 

Roberta: Intriguing. I have read about gratitude, especially in Native American cultures, but also in ancient Greece, where you thanked the gods (not the animals) by giving them the first portion of meat. Saying grace of course is connected to this sense of gratitude. Whether we're talking about a brain chemical I can't say, but it wouldn't surprise me if they found one.

Q. 4. What role do you think large-scale game preserves should play in modern hunting? For many animals, these places are the last reservoirs of habitat before extinction. Should we create artificial habitats that allow us to experience hunting an animal that we might otherwise never have encountered?
- Patrick Hall, Greensboro, N.C.

Patrick: I'm not sure I see the point of hunting animals whose numbers are small — I can only justify hunting animals who "need" a predator and are at risk of destroying their habitat. I find something distasteful about hunting animals that have been raised for the purpose or confined in artificial environments expressly for that purpose. I felt a lot more comfortable hunting an alien pest like the feral pig than, say, a wild duck.

Q. 5. How about doing a story about veganism? Just as you found some hunters and learned from them and practiced what they'd taught you, why not team up with a couple vegans, ones who are skilled in the art of cooking, and see what you can learn from them? And if you're up to this challenge, perhaps you can re-examine your hunting piece from the perspective that we are perfectly capable of having healthy bodies and happy tastebuds without needing to slaughter animals. Indeed, we can all attain the moral clarity you envy in those who don't consume the products of death. It is a choice, and I urge you to explore it with as much openness as you gave to the idea of hunting.
- Monica Ball, Peoria, Ill.

Monica: You might be interested to read the section on vegetarianism and animal rights in my new book, The Omnivore's Dilemma. I explore some of these issues and ate as a vegetarian for a period of time. You're right: We are capable of living quite well without slaughtering animals. But I think I can defend a very limited carnivory on ecological grounds. Check it out. (Or read An Animal's Place, an article I wrote in 2002 for The Times — it has some, but not all, of this material —minus the vegetarian experiment.)

Q. 6. In my efforts to preserve the hunting tradition, I have read hundreds of articles both for and against hunting. None have explored the topic from such a unique perspective. Regardless of how my question is answered, this is great work. Thank You. My question is: Having the benefit of this experience, do you believe hunting has a rightful place in our modern society?
- Michael Poe, New Providence, N.J.

Michael: Many thanks for the kind words. Yes, I do believe hunting has a place in modern society. The hunter knows important things about nature, and our place in nature, that we need to keep alive. Also there are animals that need predation lest they destroy their habitat (and the habitat of other animals), and we might as well do it if no one else will. It is also, under the right circumstances, an entirely honorable and sustainable way to get one's food.

Q. 7. I am wondering why you didn't field dress your own animal. I understand that you assisted your mentor, who actually did it for you. For every other hunter's first kill (that I've witnessed), the field dressing gutting, however unpleasant, was done by the shooter (perhaps assisted by a mentor, not the other way around). Implicit in Seor Ortega y Gasset's eloquently worded maxim that "one must kill in order to have hunted" is the belief that the dirty work is part of the hunt.
I realize that another reason you went on this hunt was to be able to write a story for publication – I am not belittling that at all, it's done all the time and I applaud you for it. But, I'm curious to know if you'd hunt again, just for yourself?
- Rob DiStasio, South Salem, N.Y.

Rob: I wasn't aware of the tradition of cleaning your animal — lucky for me. I was actually worried about making a botch of it, and letting someone skilled at the art seemed the more respectful way to treat the animal than for me to practice on it. I had a taste of the "dirty work" without desecrating the animal.
Will I hunt again? I'm not sure. I don't know that I would get as much out of the experience a second time. On the other hand the experience was deeply compelling the meat extraordinary, so perhaps I will at some point. But no question, I did this in order to write about it. That's a weakness and a strength, as I see it. I think, having no prior experience, I could see the process with a certain freshness — I approached it with a degree of wonder I might not have had had I hunted since childhood. Sometimes naiveté and inexperience are more useful tools than expertise and sophistication, don't you think?

Q. 8. I couldn't help but notice your recurring feeling of embarrassment. Do you think that has anything to do with a modern desire (and ability) to preserve each and every life so that killing any form of life is frowned upon? Or is it the simple fact that as independent farms cease to exist we become more and more disconnected with our food?
- Sara, New York City

Sara: I think it's natural to feel a certain amount of shame in taking a life, and that that is a healthy thing — it keeps us from doing it recklessly or needlessly. Is it a signal what we're doing is wrong? I don't think so, but it does force us to be conscious and to compensate for what we've taken.

Q. 9. If your interest was in exploring your place in the food chain, why didn't you go to a slaughter house? My question is sincere — you do eat meat and most of it presumably comes from slaughterhouses, unless you're wealthy enough to eat free range meat all the time. Secondly, do you not understand that hunting for recreation or is an entirely different moral and practical experience than hunting for food because that's the only way to get it? What you describe is a safari-like experience with very specific class dimensions. Finally, why do you imagine that all vegetarians are unaware that they too are making ethical compromises?
- Donna Sullivan, El Rodeo, Costa Rica

Donna: I have been to a slaughterhouse, and write about that in "The Omnivore's Dilemma." There are many ways to explore the human food chain, and hunting is only one of them — this story was part of a much larger treatment of the issue.
As for vegetarians, I've heard from many of them, enough to make me realize that perhaps I was over-generalizing to depict them as one-dimensionally as I did. I've met many vegetarians who regard themselves as blameless and righteous in their non-meat-eating, but since publishing this piece, I've heard from many others who have a more complicated sense of their role.

Q. 10. Why do you assume that vegetarians have any more moral clarity or innocence than omnivores? Most of the vegetarians I know have ridiculous exceptions to almost every self imposed rule — sneaking hot dogs at ball parks because of "tradition" or partaking of foie gras in France lest they appear rude to their hosts. At least we meat eaters own up to, and even embrace, our evolutionary hard wiring. We are the ones who sleep with a clear conscience!
Great article by the way! Where are the recipes for all those wonderful dishes you describe? We know what step one is: first, hunt down and kill a wild boar. Second...
- Geneve Hoffman, Maine

Geneve: I haven't met any of those hot-dog-chomping vegans, but I sure would like to. We'd have a lot to discuss.
I don't have a specific recipe for the braised leg, but basically it was six hours in a 225 degree over, in a liquid consisting of red wine, stock made from boar and beef bones, and liquid from re-hydrated dried morel mushrooms. I also roasted a loin, rolled in black pepper and larded with garlic, over olive wood on the grill. Boar is lean so it tends to dry out a bit; the braise was better.

Q. 11. In what ways do you think vegetarians depend on a denial of reality? And do you think that is a greater denial than that of the average meat-eater? Do you pity the tofu-eater-in-denial more than the meat-eater-in-denial? If so, why?
- Jamie Don, San Diego, Calif.

Jaime: Good point about the meat eaters in denial — many of us are. The key, it seems to me, is to be conscious about our eating. The vegan has to be conscious of the fact that, even eating only vegetable matter, animals die in agriculture in great numbers, and the vegan utopia would condemn us to a very long, industrialized food chain (An Animal's Place for the full explanation). As for the meat eaters, it seems to me incumbent on them to take a good hard look at where their meat comes from, and realize all the consequences of that menu choice too.

Q. 12. An animal shot by a hunter can take hours to die. Death by hunter is not a good death. In your earlier article championing humane farming and abattoirs with glass walls, you came across as deeply concerned for animal well-being. So I ask you: shouldn't we leave the killing of animals to people well-trained to do it humanely? And if we must eat meat, shouldn't we think of killing as a regrettable cost, rather than making a form of recreation?
- Jean Kazez, Dallas

Jean: You make a strong point. I was lucky in that my shot was good enough to kill the boar almost instantaneously, but it could easily have been otherwise. Still, death by hunting seems no worse and often much better than death by slaughterhouse technology, which also is imperfect. (McDonald's tolerates a 5% error rate in its cattle stunning operation — animals that are imperfectly stunned and either need to be stunned again or have their throat slit while conscious.) I think depicting hunting as killing for recreation is to oversimplify the experience. But whatever the circumstances, forest or slaughterhouse, it seems to me killing as swiftly and mercifully as possible is essential.

Q. 13. Do you think that as people become more spiritually evolved, they have less of a need/desire to hunt, gather and eat?
- Lela M Cannada-Puckett, Knoxville, Tenn.

Lela: I'm not sure about your premise: that people become "more spiritually evolved." Have we done so? There's plenty of evidence to the contrary. And it seems to me that until we download our consciousness onto silicon, the need to eat will always be with us. Amen.

We Are Corn Video- A visual example

I am a very visual person, while reading the corn chapter in this book I couldn't fathom the many products that Michael Pollan lists as being corn based, here is a pretty great visual representation.

Question 3: Do you agree or disagree with Michael Pollan?

Hmmm this is a pretty broad question, I feel like Michael Pollan is a writer who looks equally at both sides of his arguments. I think that he makes informed statements and that is pretty hard to disagree with.

There are certain aspects of the book I agree with I believe that we should all be well informed of where our food is coming from and I think that we should all be making conscious and informed decisions about the kind of food we are feeding our family, friends, and customers. I think we all have a responsibility to make organic, healthy and sustainable food a large part of our lives. But the one thing about this statement that keeps popping up in my head is that not everyone can afford to support this kind of lifestyle. Therefore how can I feel good about eating my organic chicken, knowing that some families in the building complex behind my apartment can barely afford the hormone pumped and corn fed one priced at under $8 at our neighbourhood grocery store?

Is this a realistic goal? can I agree with the idea that only those who can afford whole foods deserve that quality of food? I think there needs to be a initiative to promote healthy diets and make them affordable to those people in low income areas, otherwise there will be very little change or impact.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Question 2: Will you make changes in your eating habbits?

I wouldn't say that I've now become one of those preachy eaters... I don't assume that because I'm aware of GMO's and because I want to eat more organic products that my close friends or relatives should follow suit. Unlike some radical eaters out there!

As I mentioned previously this book has definitely made me want to eat more organically, epically meat, dairy, eggs, and some fruits and vegetables.
However  it has made me question whether my household can make much of a difference or if organic is really better, specifically for the animals involved. I’m positive that my fruit and vegetables are much better. They look better, are more appropriately sized and taste better..this comes at a hefty 3.99 per bag of apples...

Although Micheal Pollan suggests that hunting and gathering his own ingredients is not anymore practical than eating fast-food, I would and have been wanting to start my own gardens, and have been very interested in hunting for the sake of food not sport.

Living in an urban area can make both the gardening and hunting thing a little difficult. But eating organically is quite easy, I often go to the many farmers markets in my neighbourhood and buy fresh and local produce there, and I try to go to local butchers like Rowe Farms that offer organic, free-range meat and dairy. The organic thing may be easy but as a student much of my income can be swallowed by purchasing these organic and local items.

I want to make these changes in my eating habits, and I have taken the hit in my bank account to do so but what is someone who can’t afford it to do? Eat the processed and mass produced foods that are priced low and Michael Pollan swears against. 

So that begs the question, is my organic household really making that much of a difference? And how can much of a difference be made if not everyone can afford to do so? 

Here are some links on how you can enjoy some organic produce!

Front Door Organics

A List of Toronto's Farmer's Markets

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Other Omnivore bloggers!


Don't just take my point of view into consideration!

Read some blogs created by some fellow Chef students from my class!

- Katie

Question 1: How has Michael Pollan changed the way I think about food?

Hey All,

Sorry for the the lack of posts... other school assignments and work took priority last week.
I've decided to look into some of the assigned questions for the next few blogs, I think they will bring up some good points and possibly aid in how to be a conscious eater in Toronto.

The first question from the list is:
How has Michael Pollan changed the way I think about food?

Well I think that Michael Pollan’s book is a really great excuse to get us to start thinking about the food that we eat. 
I feel as though I was pretty aware of how food gets to my table, but I was also aware of that fact that like many, I choose to ignore certain aspects of how our food is produced. Michael Pollan’s book forced me to stop being ignorant to those aspects about the food industry and to become better educated on the food that I make for myself, and my loved ones.

Before reading the book I had wanted to start eating more organic products, mainly meats. But reading the Omnivores Dilemma has really made me seek out those organic products, and grocery stores.
In a city like Toronto we have such a wide array of stores and markets that carry organic products, right now I think that the price tag is the only thing that holds consumers back.

I can happily say that I have several organic products at home and did not have to go out of my way, or break my bank to do so.

I have organic soy milk, spinach, apples, celery, beer, crackers, pasta, rice, tea, quinoa, peanut butter, coffee, bread, oats, and meat.

I was able to obtain these products from stores and markets in my neighbourhood.

I will even break down where I was able to find these products:

  • Apples (PC brand), Spinach, Celery, Rice Crackers and oats (also PC) from No Frills at Lansdowne and Dundas 
  • Soy Milk (Silk brand), Bread (Dimpflmeier brand) from Price Chopper at Queen and Gladstone
  • Mill St. Organic Beer- From LCBO
  • Rice, Pasta, Quinoa, Peanut Butter, Tea (Numi brand), Coffee (Kicking Horse brand)- All from Strickly Bulk at Bloor and Ossington
  • Meat- From Rowe farms in Roncesvalles  
On this list there are only two specialty stores, if you keep an eye out organic products are becoming more and more prominent in Grocery Stores especially ones like No Frills that carry more alternative products.

If a student like myself can do it so can you... right!?

I will link you to some of the stores I mentioned in this blog.

Rowe Farms

Strictly Bulk

No Frills @ Lansdowne

Price Chopper

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Are Locavores that bad?

I’ve been reading over some of the suggested questions for us to consider for this project, I may not write about all of them (unless I can do it before the deadline!), but there are some questions that may start a discussion or generate feedback, I will start with those first.

A friend just shared a link to Toronto Life’s website which often has articles and other things the Magazine doesn’t feature… the link brought me to a page called the dish and titled “Locavore, shmocavore—a roundup of the new foodie backlash”

An article basically calling out foodies for preaching the local way but not having sustainable eating habits, which is the whole point behind the movement right?
It also mentions an article in The Atlantic, in which the author takes shots at food writers such as Michael Pollan… It should prove to be an interesting read.

Locavore, shmocavore- a roundup of the new foodie backlash

Thanks Suzi for the link!

Portlandia: Is It Local?

Since high school I've been obsessed with Portland Oregon, I loved bands from Portland, I read books about Portland, and have day dreamed of the day I get to go...
It’s a city that involves everything that could possibly interest me, music, art, wine, coffee, nature, food. So when I discovered there was a new show that's based on Portland I was already on board.
The show pokes fun at all the characters of Portland, and stars SNL's Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein of the late band Sleater-Kinney.
Clearly this sketch is an exaggeration, but this is happening now in restaurants foodies want the life story behind their chicken. It is totally reasonable of customers to want to know about their food... so is this what is in store for restaurants now?
I mean even KFC is advertising that they have grain fed Canadian chicken.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Michael Pollan: The Omnivore's Dilemma

ok the last video for those of you who may not want to read the book...

this is a rather long video but its great lecture that revolves around the book.

Oprah 1 week vegan challenge complete show - pt. 1 of 3 - Feb 1, 2011

Link to Oprah's website for the video

Even Oprah loves Michael!

And if my brief period of working at Chapters has taught me anything... whenever Oprah whispers that she likes something the whole world follows... well maybe at least all the middle aged women who loyally watch her.

This clip is great it promotes veganism which is as he says a cool idea, but I like how he plays the devils advocate.

Be a conscious eater.

Food Inc - Official Trailer [HD]

This is a great documentary, Michael Pollan makes an appearance to talk about the industrial corn industry.

I highly recommend it and again if you're not into reading the book its another way to learn about what we eat and the impact.

The Book

The Omnivore's Dilemma 
By Michael Pollan

Here is the assigned book.

There are also some Children's and Youth editions if you want to share with your family.

The book brings attention to the common household question  "What should we have for dinner"? Michael Pollan uses this question to reflect on how our society is  almost schizophrenic with their answer. Eating take-out one night, organic the next, eating an all vegan diet, or all protein, even perhaps hunting and growing our own food. Our society basis its diet for the most part on what’s trendy.

The omnivores dilemma touches on all of these trends but its main focus is not what to eat for dinner but how your dinner got to your table. To find out Michael Pollan examines each one of the food chains that sustain us, these chains include industrial, organic, and food we hunt or grow ourselves. He follows the source right to our table.

This book takes a deep look into the American way of eating and how we need, no HAVE to be aware of the impact we have or can make by being aware of our food and where it comes from.

Michael Pollan breaks this book into three sections or parts, the first being corn, the second Grass, and the third is the Forrest.

My projects section is the Forrest in which he talks a lot about the process of hunting, gathering, and growing his own food.

As I've mentioned the local food movement is getting more and more popular in Toronto, thankfully books like this are helping in this popularity. I would like to look more into this movement, and others like the 100-mile diet, and L.E.A.F certification.

If you haven't read this book already I strongly suggest it. It is more academically written and sometimes can get a little dry but what you can learn completely makes it worthwhile. 


If you're not a reader there are many documentaries, lectures, and interviews that Michael Pollan does available.

I will post some links and videos for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Purpose of this blog

Hi All,

The reason for creating this blog is to discuss the last section (The Forest) of Michael Pollen’s book "The Omnivore's Dilemma"...

This is first off an assigned project, and its purpose is to assist our group in contributing to discussions/questions/or opinions about the book... but who knows where this project or this blog may take us.

The third part of this book talks a lot about Michael Pollan's experience of hunting and gathering the food for his own table. This got me to thinking about how the local food movement is becoming more and more prominent in Toronto.

I think I've found my topic!

Oh and no longer does this blog belong to a group, it is now my own.

I encourage any readers I may acquire to start discussions, as questions and partake in this topic as much as they want.

I'm much more excited to be doing this project on my own, I have much more flexibility in what to share and discuss, and way less trouble trying to get group members to post here.


I will start with a introduction of myself...


I'm Katie; I am a 23-year-old second semester chef training student at George Brown College.

This blog is the product of an assignment for my Food Theory Class; hopefully this will keep going after the project is complete.

Chef Training is the second program I've attended at George Brown, the first being Food and Beverage Management. I actually purchased this book while in my first program and had read half of it... Now I have an excuse to finish it.

I am in school part time, and spend the rest of my time managing a restaurant on Queen West.

I am a lover of food, wine, and coffee.

I try hard to eat local and organic (alas being a student makes that a little hard).

I am a tough critic, and hard to please.

I make a fairly good effort to try as many restaurants in the city, if not my own neighborhood.

I hope that I can incorporate these qualities/values/stories into this project. Scratch that I plan to.

As a first time blogger, I hope you enjoy your read, and feel free to give me any feed back on where I can improve.