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Monday, April 30, 2012

This Week at SBPL I Discovered ... Screen-Free Week!

Beginning today, Monday, April 30 through Sunday, May 6, people of all ages are electing to turn off their screens in recognition of Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff Week).  There is a website, an office in Washington, DC and activists all over the world dedicated to this one week in 52!

The Library has numerous books on the topic as well diversions.  For more information on activities and details on the Week, go to  For local Library diversions, see our events calendar at

I have been challenging my family with this week for years, so we are quite used to the idea.  However, everytime I mention it to someone for the first time I get a look like I just said I planned to set myself on fire!  I don't know about you but I find it a little scary that anyone would find it so impossible to conceive of not watching television for a week, let alone not using a computer (for entertainment) or other electronic device.  I enjoy television and computers too, but jeez it's just seven days.  I like the challenge!

There is plenty to do, especially this time of year. We are lucky to have a great Library, but there is also the Delaware-Raritan Canal to explore, as well as your own backyard.  Play tennis, croquet, start your tomato garden, dust off the board games and play together, clean out your closets and donate the excess to the Food Pantry and Goodwill, etc.  How about calling up some neighbors to come sit on your deck for tea and a chat?  Teach your child how to jump rope or play hop scotch.  My kids always liked to play Legos and ping pong during the week.  Why not write down a new idea to try each evening? 

After everyone gets home from work there is really just a couple of hours to fill.  Have a family sit-down dinner together and clean up together.  After the dishes are done and homework is finished your night is almost at an end (provided you are not already at any scheduled extra-curricular activities anyway). 

Too tired to want to do anything?  That's OK.  Read a book or just sit back and relax and listen to music.  It's really up to you.  The challenge is yours.  Why not try it?  You have nothing to lose except some time in front of a screen. 

Finding that time is really the challenge these days!  Whether I am shopping at the mall, on the treadmill at the gym, or sitting in the dentist chair, there is an unsolicited television screen thrust in my face.  It's really kind of offensive, as if I can't spend a moment without televised entertainment.   

It's been said that the brain activity is more engaged daydreaming than while watching television. See more about this on the website

Screen-Free Week is an annual event where children, families, schools and communities are encouraged to turn off screens and "turn on life." Instead of relying on television programming for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature, and spend time with family and friends.

In 2010, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) became the home of Screen-Free Week at the request of the Board of the Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness (CSTA), which ran the initiative since 1994 (first as TV-Free America). CCFC launched a new website and developed a new Organizer's Kit, fact sheets, and other materials for Screen-Free Week 2011 and beyond.

Although my teenage children complain that no one else but me actually attempts to be screen-free this week, it is estimated that more than 100 million people have taken part in the turnoff, with millions participating each year.  So there! 

If you participate, please comment here about what you did in your new-found free time!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Get Ready for Summer

All of the Departments here at the library are busy preparing for our summer reading programs.  There will be the usual Childrens, Teens and Adult programs but there will also be a separate program this year for Tweens or children between the ages of 8 and 12.   All of the programs start on June 18 with registration for the Children's and Tweens' programs at the Children's Desk and registraton for the teen program online on the library website under Summer Reading at   Adults don't need to register but can pick up the Book Review Entry Forms starting on June 18.   Submit an entry form for every book you read. Every entry entitles the reader one ticket in the prize drawings at the end of the summer to be held at the end of summer wrap-up party on August 18 at 3:00. The annual Summer Family Fun Festival will be held on July 7 at Reichler Park.

The South Brunswick Public Library participates each year with the New Jersey State Library in the  Collaborative Summer Library Program, "a grassroots consortium of states working together to provide public libraries with high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens and adults at the lowest cost possible." (From the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) Manual).  This year, the theme chosen by CSLP is all about the night and dreaming.  The theme for children, tweens and teens is Dream Big - Read and the adult theme is Between the Covers.  Each program will select genres and create programs that will fit the theme and appeal to our patrons here in South Brunswick. 

May is "Get Caught Reading" month sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, although reading is a good thing to do year round!  Why not come to the library and get a head start on your summer reading.  We are planning some great programs around the night theme and promoting books that are best read at night like ghost stories, undercover detective stories, true crime and true survival books, romances and memoirs.  Look for details on all of the activities online on our website and in the Event Calendar, in our bi-monthly newsletter The Compass and on flyers posted in the library.  Let the South Brunswick Public Library be your "Guide to Discover" the fun of Summer Reading. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Good Flicks You Might Have Missed… by Jill Eisner, Sr. Librarian

If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, here are some more of my favorites from our collection. Let me know what you think!

Win Win

Starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.

Mike Flaherty is a lovable yet long-suffering lawyer and high school wrestling coach. When he comes across a teenage runaway who also happens to be a champion wrestler, Mike's luck turns around in spectacular fashion. But his win-win situation soon becomes more complicated than he ever imagined when the boy's family affairs come into play. 2011, rated R. Genre: Comedy/Drama.

The Soloist

Starring Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr., Catherine Keener, Tom Hollander, LisaGay Hamilton.

In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist and recent bike accident victim Steve Lopez more than his banged-up face, was his pressing need for story ideas. He soon discovers Nathaniel Ayers, a skid row schizophrenic street musician, who possesses extraordinary talent - even though he only has half-broken instruments to play. Inspired by Nathaniel's story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about him and attempts to do more to help both him, and the rest of the underclass of L.A. have a better life. Lopez's good intentions run headlong into Nathaniel's personal demons and the larger issues of social injustice facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Nathaniel find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations. 2009, rated PG-13. Genre: Drama.

Down With Love

Starring Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, David Hyde Pierce, Sarah Paulson, Tony Randall.

A feminist writer in the early 1960's who is promoting her book 'Down With Love' has sworn off love. A dashingly chauvinistic New York City journalist thinks he doesn't need love. They both fall for each other in this hilarious parody of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson-type sex comedies of the early sixties.

2003, rated PG-13. Genre: Comedy

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cake Improv

Sometimes you can wing it, and sometimes you really want to have a couple of dress rehearsals before the real thing. 

My daughter Kate's wedding is coming up in August and I am honored and excited that she asked me to bake her wedding cake.  I've made a few tiered wedding cakes before (how many?  let's see...more than 5 but less than 10...), but the last time I did so was several years ago, so I thought it would behoove me to try out some recipes before the actual date.

America's Test Kitchen books came to mind immediately because their recipes are exhaustively tested and reliably good -  especially important with something as potentially angst producing as planning a wedding!

In The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, (in our Library!) I found the recipe for Yellow Wedding Cake. As it so happens, as the unofficial baker for the Sunshine Club at work, I needed to make three cakes for birthdays celebrated in January, February and March.

Rather than mixing up three separate cake batters, I decided to use just the one large wedding cake recipe, but I would vary the additions, fillings and frostings.   The recipe called for good ingredients:   6 sticks of butter, 12 eggs, check.  Not exactly diet food, but nobody said you had to eat more than one (small) piece!

According to the recipe, all three layers could be baked at one time.   You have to have 6, 9 and 12 inch pans in order to do this - everyone has a 9 inch cake pan, but you can get the 6 and12 inch pans at Michael's craft stores for a reasonable price.

The results:  they really did look - and taste - different from one another.

I have to say, everyone loved these cakes.  Maybe more than any others I've made in the past...were they better, or was everyone just really hungry?

(For the basic recipes, check America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book in our Library for Yellow Wedding Cake, Classic Buttercream, and Chocolate Frosting.)

Calling all chocoholics...

Here are the variations:  For the 12 inch cake,  I made what I called Chocolate Chip Cake,  by adding 1 cup of chocolate sprinkles (inspired by a recipe from my mother's cousin Rose) to each large layer.  This was iced with decadent ganache-style Chocolate Frosting, straight from ATK Family Baking Book with no changes:  this was a cinch, completely made in a food processor.  This would be great on any layer cake (we had it four weeks ago on my son Trip's birthday cake - chocolate on chocolate - which disappeared quickly at my house).

So cute!

For the smallest, 6 inch cake, I made a Lemon Ginger Cake.  Starting with the Classic Buttercream recipe, I took out about 2 cups to make Lemon Buttercream by adding:

2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract

Then I took about 3/4 of a cup of that Lemon Buttercream and added:

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

to make the lemon/ginger filling.  On top for decoration, I used about 1/2 cup of jarred lemon curd (I know, I ran out of time!...and I do so love homemade lemon curd...) interspersed with some pretty little sugar lemon decorations from Williams Sonoma.  

Subtle flavors, not so subtle decorating...

For the 9 inch cake, I made an Almond Strawberry/Raspberry Cake.  Using all of the remaining batch of plain Classic ButtercreamI  added:

1 1/2 teaspoons of pure almond extract
1/2 cup of almond meal (from Trader Joe's - or use almonds very finely chopped in a food processor)

 to make Almond Buttercream.  

Then, I took out about 1 and 1/4 cups of that Almond Buttercream and added to it:

about 1 cup more of the almond meal

to make a more intensely almond filling.  Using the 9 inch layers, I filled them with a mix of strawberry and raspberry jam, and then topped that with the thick almond filling.  After icing the cake with the Almond Buttercream, I lavishly decorated the cake with almonds and big, whole strawberries.  Over the top?  No worries;  after all, this cake had to share the spotlight with two others.
Validation for this cake creation came from my son Trip, who is really more of a chocolate lover, (see above).   Though not overly enamored of rich foods, he tried the Almond Buttercream  and commented that it was "really rich but light at the same time", and said that he could "eat a LOT of that!"

Kate and Alex tried all the cakes, but didn't commit to any one variation - I think that may be their strategy:  they will just enjoy the experimentation process as long as it lasts.  

As will I.

Diane Whitman, MLS
Reference Librarian

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Stroll Through E-Books

Are the kids at school and you have a moment of downtime?  Is it a week night and you are looking for something different to do? Can't sleep, the house is quiet and nothing is open?

Visit the E-Branch of the South Brunswick Library Website any time, night or day.
Go to the E-Branch and enter  E-Books & More to browse our virtual stacks filled with e-books, audiobooks, reference books, magazines and  newspapers.

Click on ELibraryNJ and login to flip through the new or recently returned e-books and audiobooks.

Head over to the Gale Virtual Reference Library collection with those burning research questions. Search by keyword or browse the e-books by subject after you login with your library card number.

If you are taking a test for work or school go to the Learning Express Library collection for test prep guides, classes and practice tests.  Computer software training is there too.

Scroll down the aisle of  E-Books , past the Children's Books, and find the magazine and newspaper collections.

EbscoHost Masterfile has over 1,750 magazines, journals and general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975 including Consumer Reports and other popular magazines. Search by keyword or browse by publication title.

Ebsco Newspaper Source Plus has over 700 full-text newpapers including New York Times (from January 1985 to present), Christian Science Monitor, Irish Times (Ireland), San Francisco Chronicle, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), The Times (UK), Toronto Star, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times (DC), and others.

You can even ask a question at the Virtual Information Desk by clicking on Help.
Hope you have enjoyed this short stroll through our E-Books.

Faites une agréable promenade et à bientôt ! Did I mention you can study a foreign language from our Language Database Webpage?

Submitted by Mary Donne Head of Information Services

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Poignant Film about Shameful Facts of American History

On the third Wednesday of every month, as part of the Wednesday Wisdom program, we show informative and inspiring documentaries either stand alone or in series.  We have just finished the BBC Earth series “Nature’s Most Amazing Events” when we were awed each month with breathtaking cinematography illustrating some incredible events that show the cycles of life on this planet.  The next series will start on May 16.  We will be viewing at least some of the eight episodes of BBC’s The Power of Art, presented by Simon Schama.  From the website we find this description “This is not a series about things that hang on walls, it is not about decor or prettiness. It is a series about the force, the need, the passion of art...the power of art.”

In the interim, we will view and discuss a disturbing stand alone documentary that should not be missed.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 18, we are going to show the very graphic and piercing 1982 documentary Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die that poses the question, “Could the United States have stopped the Holocaust.”  A description from the Internet states: “The film combines previously classified information, rare newsreel footage, and interviews with the politicians who were in office at the time, to tell a behind-the-scenes story of secret motives and inane priorities that allowed for the death of millions.” The Los Angeles Times called it, “a devastating political story,” and the New York Times said the, ‘unadorned’ film tells a story not to be proud of.”[

 “Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die was the first documentary to examine America's roles during the Holocaust. It was initially seen as controversial, but has since become a part of US Holocaust Museum’s collection. The documentary received positive reviews from major publications. And the US Memorial Holocaust Museum has said, ‘It is a detailed, informative presentation of a complex topic, with oral testimony from a wide range of Jews and non-Jews involved with the issue of Jewish rescue.’”

 “The documentary points to the fact that while the Jews were being slaughtered, America refused to fully recognize the horror, but, as soon as the war was over, the nation was ready to address the inhumanity. Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die shows clips from a disturbing American propaganda film, Death Mills, which was intended to educate the German people about the crimes of the Nazi regime. Black and white footage shows concentration camps after their liberation. Emaciated bodies, still alive but with no chance of survival, lie motionless on the open fields. When the crematorium door is opened, showing the skulls inside, the narrator demands, ‘Don't turn away! Look!’ Once the evil had been committed and nothing could be done to change the awful reality, the public was ready to be shocked and horrified.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Week at the SBPL I Discovered … The World in South Brunswick Art & Diversity Show!

Who knew? Our South Brunswick community can sing, dance, and even take an audience on an entertaining trip around the world! This week the Library offered its annual World in South Brunswick Art & Diversity Show. It never ceases to amaze me the variety of world cultures we are able to represent, as well as the quality of performances in the two-day festival.
Professionals as well as local students performed in acts representing China, England, India, Scotland, and more. It is the student volunteers in YAC (Youth Advisory Council) and TSF (Teen Special Forces) along with Young Adult Librarian Saleena Davidson that organize the program. All of the performances in the show are given to the public free of charge.

A bake sale featuring some ethnic and universal treats helped support the Friends of the Library. Monies raised by the Friends sponsor this event every year, as well as numerous programs offered free at the Library to all ages throughout the year.

Children were welcome to watch and were also offered crafts and fun to-dos in a separate room if they chose.

The weekend celebrates the cultural diversity we enjoy in South Brunswick. It is also a great example of how today’s Library has become a true community keystone, not just a quite place to write your term paper. But sure, if you want that we have that too. On our busier and sometimes nosier days, it might be best for such a person to set up in the Quiet Study Room. This is our dedicated quiet space for those who need to escape our more active learning experiences!

Today’s library, certainly our Library, offers educational opportunities beyond what is found on a quiet, dusty shelf. Some are singing, dancing, and even eating opportunities! Whenever you are wondering what to do with your time, just stop by (we are open 7 days a week) or go online to and see what’s going on at the Library. There is always something to discover here! Discovery is what we are all about.

To see photos from the Art & Diversity Show, please go to our website or our Facebook page. 

By Rosemary Gohd

Friday, April 13, 2012

Adventures in Fondant

I had the happy occasion to bake a cake for someone's baby shower (you know who you are!) today.   At first someone suggested that I make the "pregnant Mom" cake from Buddy Valastro's Baking with the Cake Boss, (funny but cute); but instead it was requested that I make something with a beach theme.

How about a fondant covered sand pail cake with shells, sand dollars and a starfish in graham cracker "sand"?   Having made only one other fondant covered cake before - albeit a 3 tiered wedding cake, I was excited but totally apprehensive too.  Could I sculpt a cake like they do on Ace of Cakes?

Using the shell cupcakes from the cookbook Confetti Cakes as inspiration, and the pocketbook cake on the cover for directions on building the layers, I started by making six (yes, that's not a typo!) 8 inch cake layers on Wednesday.

A practice fondant cupcake I made at the Montville Library's fondant decorating class taught by Kristen Havyar.
Thursday I started the morning by making the fondant shell decorations (really fun), and then continued by making both a faux buttercream frosting and a real buttercream filling recipe.  By the afternoon, it was on to  filling, constructing, sculpting, and then the worrying part: covering the cake with fondant.

Constructing involved cutting foam core to size under each two layers of cake and supporting the cake layers with straws.  After all six layers were stacked up,  I sharpened a dowel, poked it through all the layers including the foam core "plates", and cut the dowel flush with the top. Into the fridge with the giant cake (it was seven and a half pounds before filling and frosting, and almost a foot tall) in order to make the sculpting more stable.  Confetti Cakes suggests cakes should go in the freezer for an hour, but there was no way I had freezer space for that behemoth!

On to sculpting the cake.  Fortunately for me (who is completely drawing challenged), cutting a cake into a cone shape is pretty basic.  After cutting off (and BTW consuming!) a lot of frosting filled cake (what was that diet I was supposed to be following?), it was time to coat the whole shebang with frosting.  But first, back to the fridge to cool down.

While I waited for the cake to cool,  I mixed pink gel food color into a two and a half  pound block of fondant.  As I  mindlessly and endlessly pulled, pushed and  kneaded the fondant to get the color mixed evenly, I fretfully pondered how to get the fondant onto the cake.

Plan A:  If I rolled out a giant sheet of fondant and put it over the entire cake, would I then have so much excess fondant that it would bell out around the cake and be impossible to shape without a lot of cutting or unsightly seaming? Also, would the fondant sheet be so big that when I tried to drape it over the cake it would start tearing??? Yikes! Okay, that would be too nerve racking.

How about Plan B:  If I cut the fondant into a top piece with a separate side piece, it would be easier to work with for sure, but would the unsupported side piece then slide off the cake?

Since tearing would be really hard to fix, I decided to take my chances with Plan B, and proceeded to roll out a small circle of fondant for the top.   Thus committed, I put some some serious muscle power into rolling out the remaining fondant into a huge semicircle to drape around the cake.

One small tear near the top later, I had wrestled the fondant onto the cake.  Success!  It still didn't look like a sand pail, but it was an impressive looking pink cake.  Hopefully the additional of the pail handle, some cute fondant polka dots,  crushed graham cracker "sand" and fondant shells would contribute to the illusion.

A friend told me it takes her 10 hours to decorate each fondant covered cake, and with a few more parts to finish up that night, I'd say that was right on target.  Ten to decorate, plus four or five to make the cakes.

So here's the final result today, Friday, and I think the expectant couple was pleased.  Hooray!  The surprised and happy smiles on the parents-to-be's faces were totally worth it.  My only question is:  when can I make the next cake?

Find the recipes for Vanilla Cake and Swiss Meringue Buttercream in Elisa Strauss' Confetti Cakes, and the extra faux buttercream frosting I used to "glue" the foam core to the platter and the cakes in America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, both available in our Library

An important food safety tip I would add to the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe from the Confetti Cakes book, is that when you are heating the egg whites, the directions say 'until they are very hot'.  If you use a candy thermometer, the safe temperature to cook eggs to is 160 degrees.  (I cooked mine to 165 just to be sure.)  If you get to 180, the eggs will set and will no longer be usable for frosting, so watch carefully and pull the eggs off the flame at 160 or 165 or so. Also, refrigerating the Buttercream and then rebeating it as directed in the recipe will allow you to put more filling between the layers, which I would have done had I had more time.

For inspiration, check out Buddy Valastro's book, Baking with the Cake Boss.  And if you feel like you need some instruction, try the Wilton cake decorating classes offered at  Michaels' stores.  (Also this is where you can buy fondant in 5 pound packs.) I took two Wilton classes (then offered at JC Penney and paid for as a gift from my thoughtful mother-in-law) thirty two years ago in order to make my own wedding cake, and am still enjoying using those skills all these years later.

Diane Whitman, MLS
Reference Librarian
Designated Library Baker


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Visit The E-BRANCH!

Visit South Brunswick Public Library's new website to find  amazing programs and services available at the library. 

Don't leave our website until you have also visited our E-Branch. The E-Branch is open 24/7 and it has all of the online services that you have come to depend on and enjoy. 

Research stocks, learn a language, take an adult education class, study for a test or find a good book to read in the E-ADULTS section of our E-Branch.

Download E-Books, audiobooks, reference book chapters and test prep guides from   E-COLLECTIONS .

The DATABASES section of our E-BRANCH has close to 100 online resources that we recommend for answering your questions and enriching your life.

Find homework help, readers advice, webguides and visit the Teen Zone when you are at E-TEENS.

There is always  fun stuff for kids at E-CHILDREN.

If you have a question at any time during your visit to the E-BRANCH just click on HELP. You can chat, text, or phone us up to a half hour before the library closes. You can leave us a message if the library is closed and we will get back to you.

Enjoy your visit to the South Brunswick Library E-BRANCH and come again soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Summer Reading Preview

The theme of this summer's Adult Summer Reading is a nightime theme called Between the Covers.  This is a very broad theme that could encompass many ideas.  We are going to consider several of them, from focusing on the genre's of romance, "Under Cover" detective stories and books that are better read at night such as trillers and true survival.  As a sub-genre of true survival stories, we are going to explore memoirs and have a workshop on memoir writing and discovering "What is Between the Covers of Your Book."
We are also planning to explore some art themes like bedrooms in art, (see, book cover art, film noir and altered books, (see

Some other "night" themes might be bedroom makeovers, sleep science and relaxation and aromatherapy.  If you have any suggestions of something fun that fits the theme, contact Barbara Battles at

The first contest we are announcing, which will go all summer long and tie in with our creative writing and memoir theme and will be featured in this blog and in a display in the library, is called "Book Spine Poetry."  Artist Nina Katchadourian started the Sorted Book Project in 1993 and we are going to create some of our own examples of this fun creative writing exercize.  Look at Nina's website at and the Andree Institute's Creative Writing page at for more information about the Sorted Book Project and Book Spine Poetry respectively.  Arrange your book titles to produce a creative poem or statement, take a photo and send them to for posting.

And starting on June 18, 2012, there will be Entry Forms to complete for every book you read this summer.  Like last year, we are asking for a rating and a short review that we will share with other readers.  There is no registration necessary; just pick up forms at the Check-Out and Information Desk where you will also find a box/jar in which to submit your forms.  There will be drawings for prizes throughout the summer.  More details to follow.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Library Website Unveiled during National Library Week April 8-14

How Will You Celebrate?

We recommend that you take a few minutes to discover our new and improved website at! We are choosing this week to unveil our spectacular (why be modest?!) new portal to the hundreds of resources we offer for education and entertainment seven days a week. While visiting the site you will notice our new interactive E-Branch. Click here to find all things "e" available at a glance, including links to e-books, online classes, tutoring, and apps for all ages. Find titles, user information, and more!

Also during NLW, take time to visit our bookmobile on National Bookmobile Day on Wednesday, April 11. Kids will enjoy patterns to cut out to make their own mini-bookmobiles! The South Brunswick Public Library has been offering this curbside service for nearly 35 years. Find books, magazines, music, and movies all in our colorful bus.

Take time this week to discover something new in your Library either at our Kingston Lane address, online, curbside, or all 3!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Do You Hunger for More Books?

If you have read all of the Hunger Games Trilogy and want to know what to read next we have the answer.  You can use Ebsco's NovelList Plus on the Database  page of the South Brunswick Library Website

Just search for the title Hunger Games in NovelList Plus and you can link to Title Read-a-likes, Author Read-a-likes and Series Read-a-likes.  You can also get magazine reviews and user reviews from Good Reads.

Try this for any title or author that you like to get lists of other books you may enjoy!
Click on our Ask A Librarian button if you have questions.

Monday, April 2, 2012

This Week at SBPL I Discovered ...The Omnivore's Dilemma

While technically an omnivore's dilemma is what most people encounter every day when deciding what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is the book by Michael Pollan that I refer to here.   The Omnivore's Dilemma is the source for those ghastly statistics and details swirling around McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and the like.  In the past six years since the book was published I have seen it referenced in many a news article, blog, lecture, talk show, etc that has anything to do with nutrition.  So, I was curious.

All of this information, including the 60 Minutes show I saw last night about sugar being a poison, both educates me and overloads me.  I like some of this junk food.  Do I really need to give it up entirely to be healthy? Isn't just a little once in a while OK?  I suppose it is a personal choice, but to be better informed I checked out The Omnivore's Dilemma this week to read it for myself.

 I admit it!  When I opened the book I immediately flipped through to the chapter on McDonald's food.  I was not disappointed.  It's facts include the analysis of the 38 ingredients used to make a Chicken McNugget,  including butane and other bits you wouldn't want to find in your kitchen much less on your plate. At least 13 of the elements are derived from corn. The others I have a hard time pronouncing much less spelling.

The term "omnivore's dilemma" was coined 30 years ago by a research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania.  It really does sum up my daily experience with food.   I am always questioning what I am eating for either calories, nutrition, ingredients, carcinogens, organic, cage-free, etc.  Will it make me fat? Will it give me cancer? Will it help me sidestep heart disease?  These and other questions create the dilemma about food choice and are prompted Pollan to write his book.  He notes that there is a serious problem with any meal that requires a scientist or investigative journalist to determine the ingredients. He has a compelling point here.

 Modern life can be just a little too complicated for me sometimes and it's nice to be able to keep at least some things simple.  Chicken should just be chicken, not 38 ingredients.  I trained myself to like my coffee black last year just because I was tired of worrying about dairy fat, calories, carcinogens, etc. in the myriad of "milk and sugar" choices.

Frequently I just eat what I want to taste.  However, as an adult, the more I know about what produces the tastes I crave the better, like it or not. 

The book is organized into three parts.  The first focuses on the modern or "industrial" diet that consists of convenience foods.  The second part of the book takes a look at the organic diet including the foods from the local farmer as well as the big guys such as Whole Foods.  The third part of the book talks about man's original diet, the hunter-gatherer diet a person can from the source directly.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book this week.  I hope that its facts and figures will help me to make the choices I know deep down I should make.  And, if I still feel like having a fast food dinner once in a while, at least I will know exactly what my choices really are.  

By Rosemary Gohd, PR/Marketing