Mainstream moves to Organic, while Organic moves to Mainstream…

March 13, 2008

Back in my younger years, and NO, contrary to what my kids may think, that was NOT in the Stone Age… I was a bit of hippie. Fast food, chemical farming and an urban lifestyle were much more popular than the counterculture of organic farming and alternative energy that interested me. I read magazines like “Mother Earth News” and “Organic Gardening & Farming” and anything else I could find about leading a healthier, sustainable lifestyle back before it became somewhat of a fad.

And I bought all kinds of books put out by Rodale Press, such as:
* The Rodale Herb Book
* Organic Plant Protection
* Stocking Up
* The Rodale Cookbook
* The Good Goodies
* Naturally Delicious Desserts and Snacks
… and many others.

At that time, Rodale was the leader in organic farming. I knew what to expect when I bought a book from them. No chemicals. Whole foods.

Then came the years where we moved from place to place, and I had nowhere to garden, and eventually slipped into a more mainstream type of eating, with convenience foods and other highly processed psuedo-food.

After being back on a farm for 10 years, and gradually getting back into that healthier lifestyle, I renewed my interest in books on a sustainable, healthier way of life.

Since I collect cookbooks, I naturally wanted some with recipes for the kind of meals I’m trying to fix these days. Health problems dictated an even more stringent approach, and I’ve discovered that good diabetic cookbooks and those for the G.I. diet have a lot of what I’m looking for. Imagine how excited I was when I got a flyer in the mail from my long lost supplier of great books – Rodale Press – advertising a new book on G.I. Cooking! “Aha!” says I, “Here’s where I’ll get a really great cookbook with recipes using fresh-from-the-farm ingredients like grass-fed beef, fresh cheeses, local produce and other goodies!”

When it finally came in the mail, I eagerly tore open the package and started reading through the introductory stuff and checking out the recipes. To say it wasn’t what I expected is a gross understatement. I thought maybe I was missing something, so I went through it a couple more times, paying closer attention to recipe ingredients.

Here’s a sample of what I found:
* a suggested snack of 1 oz. potato chips and 4 ounces juice,
* suggested use of reduced-fat margarine spread,
* commercial frozen dinners included in the suggested diet plans, and
* frequent use of brown sugar and white sugar.

The point is, it didn’t look any different from a cookbook I could pick up anywhere. That was most definitely NOT what I wanted or expected.

What happened?

These days I can go to Publix, a major chain grocery store, and buy a huge variety of fresh, canned, boxed and frozen organic foods. I won’t debate the misuse of the word “organic” here, but the point is that the mainstream is moving towards healthier foods.

And what used to be the counterculture, back-to-the-earth, good foods and farming people – well some of them seem to be moving towards the mainstream. I don’t know if they’re trying to reach a broader audience and increase sales or what the idea is, but I miss being able to order a book from someplace like Rodale Press, and know it won’t look like every other book out there, but stick to that sustainable type of lifestyle J.I. Rodale promoted.

Maybe this was a fluke, but I’ll be a little leery of buying from that source again.

So what did I do with this not-what-I-was-looking-for cookbook? I did something I very rarely do, considering how much I love books of all kinds, and being a collector of cookbooks in particular, because I can usually find some merit in a book and figure it’s worth keeping, especially considering you have to pay postage to return a book. Well, this one was NOT worth it.

I sent it back.

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