Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fries, Anyone?

I recently finished reading Michael Pollan's 2001 nonfiction work, The Botany of Desire. In the last chapter Mr. Pollan drives out to a potato farm to see how conventional potatoes are grown. The farmer he interviews gives a detailed (and terrifying) list of the pesticides and herbicides needed to grow his perfect Russett Burbanks. I thought I'd compile the information here for my readers.

On one field, in a single growing season, the following are applied:
1. Soil fumigant (kills all microbial life in the soil)
2. Lexam, Sencor, or Eptam (an herbicide to kill weeds)
3. Thimet (an insecticide)
4. More herbicide
5. Ten weekly sprayings of chemical fertilizer
6. Bravo (a fungicide)
7. Monitor (a deadly chemical known to damage the human nervous system)
After Monitor has been sprayed, the farmer forbids anyone from entering the field for several days.

If, like me, this list is making you feel a little queasy, you may want to avoid McDonald's fries. They are made from Russett Burbanks grown on farms exactly like this one. So are Ore-Ida fries in the freezer section, and basically any fries from fast-food chains. The only way to be sure you are getting pesticide-free potatoes is to ask the farmer who planted them (like at a farmer's market) or buy certified organic.

If you have children, be especially cautious. Studies have shown that these kinds of chemicals show a far greater presence in children because their bodies are smaller. They are basically getting a much stronger dose of poisons. And because their brains are still growing, the herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides may interrupt or interfere with vital development.

Overall the conventional way of growing potatoes is not sustainable. It damages the earth and poses many health risks for people. By purchasing and demanding more organic options, you can hope your next order of fries is not served up with a side of poison.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Julie and Jennifer

Ways I am Exactly Like Julie Powell
ie: Why I will soon be rich and famous

1. I like to cook. Julie Powell likes to cook.

2. I have a wonderful husband who tolerates my many eccentricities. Same for Julie.

3. I consider myself a wanna-be writer. So did Julie Powell.

4. Julie and I both have fat cats.
5. The blogging, of course.

Ways I am Nothing Like Julie Powell
ie: Why I will never be rich and famous
1. I do not live in New York City.

2. I have two small children who take up... my entire life.

3. I have no cool year-long project for readers to rally around.

4. I can't swear online. I just can't do it.

5. About a million more people are blogging now... so very limited chance that my blog will be singled out for any kind of... movie deal.

So there it is. My life as it stands in comparison to Julie Powell's life. Sad.

Eleven Years and Counting

So here I am on a Thursday night wandering around the house looking for something to do besides go to sleep. My kids fell asleep about two hours ago. So did my husband. He didn't turn in early because he was tired. He didn't fall asleep on the couch watching TV as I've heard some spouses do. He fell asleep putting our daughter to bed. This happens about once a week so I really should be used to it. I should relish having a quiet house in which to read a book or, say, write a blog post, but I don't. I'm annoyed that I'm missing out on time alone with my husband.

It wouldn't really matter to me if we just watched Seinfeld re-runs and didn't even talk. I just want to have a shared experience. This is a fundamental difference between men and women. To Jim, falling asleep at nine pm is funny and kind of nice. Boy, I was tired, he'll say tomorrow, grinning. He'll tell me how he woke up and put his pajamas on at two am. Then he'll go on with his day.

Now ladies, I know you're thinking that tomorrow I should kick up a fuss over the whole thing. I should pout around the house until he asks me what's wrong, or go straight in and begin the complaining how he never spends enough time with me, etc. But let me tell you, that is exactly the wrong thing to do.

After eleven years of marriage, I have realized that trying to make a man feel guilty for things he didn't think he did wrong in the first place doesn't work. It just creates this huge gap between you two. He wonders what you're on about. You wonder how he can be so daft. You start questioning the whole state of your marriage-- over an early bed time.

What works with men is a direct request for their time and attention. This request must not contain any hidden guilt trips, secret pre-requisites, or dishonest statements. Tomorrow, when I see my husband again, I will simply ask to spend some time with him, which is all I really wanted in the first place.