delicious discourse

Food Mission – Part 1

Posted in food litertaure by delicious:discourse on February 16, 2008
I am on a food mission, that I must say, has recently been rejuvenated by Michael Pollan’s most recent book, In The Defense of Food, in which he does answer the question of why food needs to be defended. Food, as Americans know the word, needs no defending at all. We have no problem consuming vast amounts of it. But, food– whole, natural, unprocessed, high quality food– that needs all the defense it can get. This is not a diet book, which are not worth the paper they are printed on, it is a book about getting back to our eating roots, back to the way food is supposed to be prepared and served, and away from the Western Diet as we know it. Pollan provides several guide lines to avoid the processed imitations of the real thing as well as how to approach food and eating. Below is the first of the three guidelines–Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.

  • 1) Eat Food:
    • “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
      • I guarantee your great grandmother, from her grave, has no idea what high-fructose corn syrup is, nor does she care. Pollan’s point–all the processed junk flooding our food chain has been created in the last 100-or-so years, so it was not around at the time your great granny was alive and thriving.
    • “Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup. ”
        • To show what a perfect nerd I am, I actually had a great time at the grocery store last night with the above and discovered some great “new” foods! I found out that normal butter, in addition to cream and salt, has natural flavorings. Natural flavorings? Sounds innocent enough. What the heck is that and why would butter need it? The following is an explanation from www.fsis.usda.gov,“Ingredients such as ginger, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, celery powder, and garlic oil…” Why would butter need any of these flavorings, I have no clue, and it makes me suspicious. So, I managed to find some butter, KerryGold, imported from Ireland consisting ONLY of pasteurized cream. It is absolutely delicious and I promise you can taste a difference from domestic butter. It is more yellow-orange in color too, indicating vitamins and antioxidants!
        • I was also shocked to find the high-fructose corn syrup in my Oat Nut Bread along with a long list of incomprehensible ingredients. I will have you know that today I pledged to start making my own bread or to go without.
        • My last, but certainly not least!, finding was Wateroak Farm’s Brazos Supreme Ice Cream–one of the few ice cream varieties with a short list of normal sounding ingredients (dairy goat milk, dairy goat cream, turbinado sugar, whole eggs, guar gum, sea salt, and natural vanilla). Honestly, I didn’t realize it was made out of goat milk until I looked at the label again last night. Had I seen the “goats milk” in the store, I probably would not have bought it, everything happens for a reason. I got vanilla (to go with some very delicious dark chocolate chip cookies I had made), but there was a wide variety of flavors. It turned out to be a little icier than the ice-cream I am used to (Amy’s anyone?), but was refreshing, creamy, with no shortage of flavor. I look forward to testing the other flavors. If you are interested, here is their website, www.dairygoathaven.com/iceCream.htm).
    • “Avoid food products that make health claims.”
      • This one is self-explanatory. Take this rule to other areas of life–if someone is bragging about one thing, they usually are trying to compensate for something else. This is also known in various forms as “short man syndrome”. So, if the tortilla claims to be low-carb, it probably means it is filled with junk. Tortillas are supposed to have carbs, they are made out of flour, which by nature is a CARBOHYDRATE. Don’t eat “foods” that claim not to have the one ingredient that makes them what they are. Where is the logic?
    • “Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.”
      • Simple–all perishables are on the outside, meaning they are much more natural than the processed junk in the middle. Think about it. There are exceptions, put the GoGurt down.
    • “Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. You won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmers’ market. You also won’t find any elaborately processed food products, any packages with long list of unprounounceable ingredients or dubious health claims, nothing microwaveable, and perhaps best of all, no old food from far away.”
      • Not all are lucky enough to have fabulous farmer’s markets and the like, but if you do have access, I would utilize one as much as possible. Plus, they can be fun, if they are NOT in Austin (there IS hope). One Saturday morning last summer, M and I drove out to Blanco for a nice hill-country drive and to pick up fresh peaches at McCall Creek farms(www.mccallcreekfarms.com). The market turned out to have some fresh veggies and fruits–you could practically see the fields from which they came from–as well as baked goods, including banana bread, aromatic apple pie, and fresh baked cookies, as well as locally candied pecans. All were made directly behind the counter in the little kitchen. I could see the bucket of dough on the counter. We left with a small basket of peaches, a loaf of banana bread, that was still warm, for the drive, and candied pecans for some summer salads. It was definitely worth the drive as well as the satisfaction of buying local and knowing exactly where the veggies and baked goods came from.
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