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Oct 16, 2007 07:16 AM

Have your local consumption been influenced by The Omnivore's Dilemma?

I have been wondering if local Chowhounders have switched or considered changing their shopping and or consumption practices after reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.
I have been buying more from local organic farmers as a result and avoiding more of the regular chain supermarkets.
Does anyone have an opinion of the chicken store right in Chinatown? Thanks in advance.

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  1. changing? no. if it's good, i'll eat it. if it's organic/sustainable/local etc, so much the better but my primary directive is yumminess.

    the chicken store,,,, it smells really bad in the doorway and that's as far as i can get.

    1. I haven't really changed my eating habits. I haven't shopped much in supermarkets ever..cept for cat food, and dry goods. I live in the city and buy meat in butcher shops, fish in fish markets, chhese shops and more local when I can..wherever I can find the best quality.

      I bought a chicken once in that Chinatown mkt. Baked it. It was awful..tough meat. I'm not a chicken expert but someone here said that it might have been due to the way it was handled..pre slaughter. They take it from the cage..and weigh it, hanging it by it's feet. I'm not squeamish and the bird puts on quite a show (Ms 9 left the store)..flapping and struggling. I know if large fish struggle a lot, it adversely affects the maybe it's true with chickens (that's why harpooned swordfish is so desirable).

      I'd try the "fresh killed" again but for a suggested by a few hounds her

      I find the chickens at Cmart to be better than the "fresh killed"..based on that 1 experience.

      1. I switched to eating locally after watching the film "The Future of Food". It was a maddening film. I immediately joined a CSA the next day. I started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, but could not finish it for some reason.
        I haven't heard anything about the Chicken store.

        1. Thanks to Pollan and others, I definitely feel more guilt than I used to about my consumption of high-carbon-footprint foods. But I still consume quite a bit of them.

          I get most of my produce from local Chinese supermarkets, which I don't think are necessarily that eco-friendly, and still buy most meats from chain supermarkets. I haven't been a consumer of many highly-processed foods for years, and I avoid HFCS where I can (is there a cane-sweetened Hines ketchup?) I try to patronize the farmers markets in season, though I often drive to Coolidge Corner rather than using the ones closer to me.

          I've tried to bring some attention to the efforts of worthy local-food-specialist restaurants like T.W. Food in my freelance food writing.

          I'd welcome information about CSAs that deliver to the South End.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I also avoid HFCS where possible. Heinz makes a non-HFCS organic ketchup, which I first saw at Legal Seafoods. It contains, according to the ingredients label, "organic sugar". Whether or not that means cane sugar, (is there any other kind of organic sugar?), at least it's not HFCS.

          2. I think the book crystallized a lot of Allstonian's thoughts on the subject -- I haven't read it yet -- but I don't know that it specifically has had that much of an effect, because we've been heading in this direction for a long time anyway. We realized this weekend as we were making our last pickup of the season that we've been members of Stillman's CSA for 8 years now, we buy as much of our meat and dairy from local/regional sources as we can, and we were already fairly seasonal eaters. To be fair, all this is as much because we like our food to taste like food as it is for the health and environmental aspects, but that's as good a reason as any!

            Honestly, so much of the whole "carbon footprint reduction" idea is just common sense when you live in the city. We don't have a car mostly because of parking, insurance, vandalism and hassle issues. We use our own shopping bags just because the ones from Shaws and Stop and Shop break so easily. We use compact fluorescents so we don't have to get out the stepstool and change lightbulbs so often.

            5 Replies
            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              I joined the Waltham Fields Community Farm CSA ( a few years ago on that basis - It just made economic sense to get LOADS of fresh veggies for as good if not a better price than the supermarkets. Reason 1A was because you cannot beat the taste of fresh, locally grown veggies. (Just this past Sunday my gf and I had a dinner that incorporated beautiful princess eggplants, kohlrabi, garlic, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and rainbow swiss chard (don't worry - three separate dishes - but all from the past two weeks of deliveries.)

              For me, that's why the idea behind CSAs will continue to work - as a chowhound, it just makes sense.

              Of course, I will still go to Russo's to get off-season ripe tomatoes...

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                I also belong to this CSA in Waltham and love the challenge of trying to use as many of the veggies as possible to make space for the next week's supply. Going to the farm once a week is a great way to get some peace of mind and refuge. I wish I would have joined sooner. Very fresh, very delicious, and frankly, very affordable considering the heap of food -we got 20 lbs. of heirloom tomatoes one Sunday :D

                1. re: uman

                  I still have about 10 lbs. from that week in my freezer!

                2. re: Bob Dobalina

                  "Of course, I will still go to Russo's to get off-season ripe tomatoes..."

                  That's actually one of my rules, and again, it's primarily from a culinary perspective: I basically just don't eat fresh tomatoes between, say, October and June. It's not gonna be worth it, so why spend the money?

                  We do go to Russo's just about weekly whenever the farmers markets aren't active, though.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    Funny - we've had consistently poor luck with tomatoes at Russo's, even in season. They rarely look any better to us than the ones at the supermarket, and often even worse.

                    As BFP says above, the book did more to crystallize my thoughts and reinforce beliefs that were already pretty strong for me than to actually change my buying habits, althoug it certainly strengthened my desire to find more locally raised meat and poultry. I don't worry too much about organic vs. conventional - local New England farms are almost by definition small operations, and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) is good enough for me.

                    I've preferred shopping day-to-day according to my mood for most of my adult life; I've shopped local farmer's markets since they first started up in Boston some time in the (late?) 80s. But we have to eat year-round, so we shop Russo's or the supermarkets as well when we have to. We do the best we can but don't make ourselves crazy over it.