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Question: What food issues are you most concerned about right now?

Nina Planck:  Well, I’m very concerned about the traditional foods versus imitation foods.  I still find people asking me about soy butter that doesn’t contain trans-fats because now they know trans-fats are bad.  They’re still asking me about substitute foods and imitations and engineered foods and foods with added this or removed that and what I want them to understand is that the whole traditional foods are best.  Even if they can’t afford the best quality version of beef or eggs or milk they ought to be consuming beef or eggs or milk instead of ersatz foods.

And I’m also concerned about a plant based diet for pregnant mothers and for young children.  There is a trend in many urban areas for young children to be vegetarians and I gather from parents and from journalists that it’s the children who are requesting to be vegetarians and this is presented as charming.  Once Johnny finds out that the chicken breast comes from a chicken he can’t bear to eat his friend the chicken.  Well our son Julian who is three helps me take apart chickens regularly.  He completely understands that his friends the farm animals are also the foods we eat.  We are omnivores and nature created us as omnivores.  I think there are a lot of things five year-olds might want.  They might want junk.  They might want junk television.  They might want to be vegetarians.  But it’s not a good time for a person to be a vegetarian.  If, in adulthood, you’ve been well fed in your mother’s womb and at her breast and in your growing years you want to experiment with a high quality vegetarian diet – or even a very carefully planned vegan diet – I think that is acceptable, but I don’t think it’s right for children to be raised as vegetarians even if they ask. 

The good news also is that there are now ethically sound and ecologically sound ways to be an omnivore, and so I would urge you, if you are conscientious about these matters, to find the farmers who care for animals and care for plants and care for the environment and shop from them.

More from the Big Idea for Thursday, May 13 2010


Ersatz Foods, Ersatz Health

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