delicious discourse

Food Mission – Part 2 & 3

Posted in food litertaure by delicious:discourse on February 16, 2008
Continued from Food Mission – Part 1, here are the second two suggestions of Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food. The first, to refresh your memory, was “Eat Food”.

  • Mostly plants: What to eat
    • Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
      • No one will argue that plants are bad for you (maybe certain types of plants, but we don’t eat those). We depend primarily on plants for vitamin C and antioxidants. Apparently, way back in the day our bodies could actually make vitamin C. However, there was a plethora of vitamin C in the diet of our ancestors that our body did not need to make it from scratch and over time we lost the ability to create it at all. Eat plants. They are good for you and they do not bite.
    • You are what you eat eats too. (This is one my favorite, yet most disturbing find in the book. Like Pollan says, this is a glaring truth that is often overlooked. If the steak you are eating comes from a cow who was fed whole grains [animals grow faster and produce more on a diet of whole grains] and it makes them sick [cows have evolved to eat grass, the leaves if the plant versus the whole grain, which is the seen] they have to be given antibiotics. Cows being fed grains have meat higher in different fats (omega-6s and saturated fat) and fewer vitamins and nutrients than cows who eat green plants. So basically, if your cow ate grains and antibiotics, then you are eating them to.
    • Eat well-grown food from healthy soils
      • You are what your plants eat too.
    • Eat wild foods when you can.
      • I think what he means here is that it does not get more natural than plants growing in the wild or eating animals straight from their natural habitat and way of life. The plants are “stronger” because they have not been protected by pesticides and have grown from wild soil. Also, according to Pollan, two of the most nutritious plants are not ones we find in our grocery stores, but lamb’s quarters and purslane–two weeds. As for animals, game tends to have less saturated fat and more omega-3s than domestic animals mainly because they comsume a diet of mostly plants not grain. Wild fish have higher levels of omega-3s than farmed fish, which I did not know, are often fed grain. Fish that eat grain? What world are we living in? My dad repeatedly suggested we go salmon fishing in Alaska, which for a teenage girl sounded like the end of the world. Looks like I should of gone.
    • Be the kind of person who takes supplements.
      • What have you got to lose? They apparently definitely do not hurt you. However, it can be argued that if you are the kind of person that takes supplements you are 2) more affluent and b) probably already live a pretty healthy lifestyle and have access to great health care.
    • Eat more like the French, or the Italians, or the Japanese, or the Indians, or the Greeks.
      • This is one of my favorites because I am fascinated with the French philosophy towards food and life! Basically, eat like any culture besides ours. Food is not just about EATING it is about culture and sharing.
    • Regard nontraditional food with skepticism.
      • Twinkies, my friend, are a non-traditional food.
    • Don’t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet.
      • There is no one thing that makes a way of eating work. It is the relationships between all factors involved. For example, it is not simply olive oil that makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy and therefore the people healthier than we. As Pollan puts it, “In thesame way that foods are more than the sum of their nutritional parts, dietary patterns seem to be more than the sum of the foods that comprise them.”
    • Have a glass of wine with dinner.
      • Yes, this is what you think, a license to drink—in MODERATION and the good stuff. A margarita make with margarita mix is NOT going to qualify here. Also, if you think about it, cultures like the French and Italians, who have a glass of wine with almost every meal have a different food culture than Americans. They have meals, which are slow and enjoyable, they take pleasure in food and the act of eating with people. Food, to them, is so much more than what is on the plate.
  • Not too much: How to eat.
    • Pay more. Eat less.
      • Quality over quantity. The theory here is that when you buy and eat quality, you need to eat LESS of it to be satisfied. I definitely vouch for this one, one might of the real deal is so much better than 5 of the low-fat, sugar-free imitation.
    • Eat meals.
      • Stop snacking all day and east three meals. A meal is much more than the food. “At the dinner table parents determine portion sizes, model eating and drinking behavior, and enforce social norms about greed and gluttony and waste. Shared meals are about much more than fueling bodies; they are uniquely human institutions where our species developed language and this thing we call culture.” (Pollan, pg.189) My parents had us sit down to the dinner table every night during my childhood. We were never allowed to eat in front of the TV or take our dinner to our room. Even if we sat down together for 10 minutes, at least we sat down together and shared a span of time and interaction.
    • Do all your eating at a table.
      • Part of eating is enjoying our food, tasting the flavors, and paying attention to what you are eating. This is hardly possible if you are driving your car or sitting on the couch watching the latest high-drama episode of The Hills. Take 15 minutes out or your busy day and sit at the table. Use the table as it was intended—to serve meals.
    • Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
      • Need I say more? You are NOT a car. Don’t act like one.
    • Try not to eat alone.
      • “The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from mere animal biology to an act of culture.” (Pollan, p.191)
    • Consult your gut.
      • If you are not hungry, don’t eat. If you are full, stop eating.
    • Eat slowly.
      • There is an organization in Italy, Slow Food, that is dedicated to “a firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life”. Slow Food aims to bring people back to the satisfactions of well-prepared food or well-grown and quality ingredients and enjoy long social meals.
    • Cook and, if you can, plant a garden.
      • I love to cook, but planting a garden is out of the question. I didn’t exactly inherit the green thumb (thanks, Mom). So, I will just have to frequent the sorry farmers markets in Austin to get my homegrown veggies. However, I can cook and I do guarantee a food is that much more satisfying if you put work into it and it turns out fabulously delicious and you get to watch everyone oooooo and ahhhhhh over it.

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