Thursday, November 18, 2010

30 Days of MEme- Reading Changes Minds

This post is for Day 17 of the 30 Days of Truth project. You can find an explanation and all the other posts from this series here.
(Sorry about not posting yesterday. I am sick and although I had my post idea, I was too tired to write.) 

Day 17 - A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.

 Now, the first time I thought about this post, my mind almost immediately went political. Which set me into a bit of a panic. I'm pretty steadfast in my political beliefs and could not for the life of me think of anything I've read (or heard, for that matter) that had changed my thinking.

Luckily, I continued to ponder and when writing Day 15's post, it came to me.

One book that challenged my thinking is called Slow Death by Rubber Duck. It is written by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.  It's a nonfiction account of the harmful effects that exposure to so-called safe chemicals can have on the human body. The two authors, angry about the slow and sometimes halted move to ban BPA in baby bottles, decide to take on the chemical industry's claims that BPA, and other chemicals (phtalates, Teflon, etc.) are safe.

The book not only includes their experience with purposefully exposing themselves (through common use) to these chemicals, but it also offers an intelligent discussion of the effects of this exposure.

This book forced me to open my eyes and start paying attention to what I'm exposing my family to through the use of convenience products, personal hygiene products, and children's toys.

To say I went a little crazy would be an understatement. I changed our way of life. Now, there is not a plastic item that comes through my house without checking the plastic content (1, 2, 4, & 5 are safer choices). I've invested in glass food storage containers (as well as reusing glass jelly jars), and avoid buying plastic toys. I've eliminated most 'fragrance' containing hygiene products and instead seek out unscented or essential oil scented alternatives.

This book definitely challenged my thinking when it comes to my usual Target trip, instead forcing me to be a cautious, label-reading consumer even outside of the grocery store.

If you're interested in learning more about this book, here's an interview with the authors I heard on The People's Pharmacy a little over a week after I finished the book.

The second book that changed and challenged the way I think was Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

This was THE book that started my locavore movement. This is the book that helped me move from a daily meat-eating, vegetable-avoiding consumer to someone who purchases the majority of our food from the Farmers' Market, cooks seasonal meals, and views eating meat as a sometimes treat.

I already worried about my child's pesticide exposure, but this book helped me to have the confidence to make the change. If the author's family of four could grow their own food for an entire year, then surely I could seek out local and seasonal alternatives for our daily meals.

No, I'm not about to plant my own garden (although I do want to grow cilantro), but I am willing to pay more for healthier alternatives to the conventionally grown grocery store fodder. Reading this book helped me to understand WHY the prices SHOULD be higher.

This book and the subsequent changes I made to my family's mealtimes has had the added bonus of opening my eyes to the joys of cooking with and superior tastes of local food.

My husband and I sometimes joke that happy pigs equal tasty pigs (when we're indulging in certified humanely raised bacon), but it's definitely true that local foods are tastier foods -- Just taste a locally grown heirloom tomato when your life has been full of bland, chosen for hardiness tomatoes, you'll see.

Share it, reader. What have you read that has challenged your thinking?


brandi said...

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a great book. While it didn't challenge my thinking, as I was already huge into local foods, it definitely reinforced it.

I had to read The McDonaldization of Society in grad school and it trully opened my eyes. The way we have 'streamlined' our processes and society to become more efficient and profitable is really mind boggling when you think about it as this book explains.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

C.S. Lewis has changed me as a writer--he provides a lovely intellectual logic for faith, and I'm a logic-gal, not a feelings person, so to find books about Christianity that don't rely on emotions and feelings really solidified my beliefs.

Both of those books sound so good--I don't recall what first terrified me about plastics, but "The End of Oil" and "The End of Food" were incredibly informative on those topics.