I just finished reading this article in the NYT and am salivating over Micheal Pollan’s latest book In Defense of Food. The slogan on the front of the book basically sums up his philosophy of eating well.
1. Eat food
2. Not too much
3. Mostly plants
I really appreciate his take on the food crisis in our nation and the fact that most people in his words “don’t eat real food.” Food being in contrast to “food products.” Food= anything your great grandmother (or someone’s great grandmother– hey I like eating Thai) would have recognized as food. Another way of thinking about it is generally avoid products with more than five ingredients or lots of unrecognizable ingredients. Basically his stance is that people in America have gotten away from any sort of positive food culture and instead eat mostly processed food products (even gasp! organic food products). We are unwitting slaves to the food industry and buy any new thing that is fortified with omega-3’s or remember oat bran? He argues that we would be better served instead to observe the above 3 principles. An addition to that would be a willingness to put more time into our food preparation and eating (a by-product of refusing “food products”) Who wants to scarf down the delicious mashed sweet potatoes you just made? I have personally observed this appreciation of food in other cultures as well. From rural Mexico to Albania to Kenya, I’ve personally stayed with people who were not wealthy but took time to make their food and enjoy it. One example: when in Mexico–Ciudad Mante to be specific–I spent 10 days leading high school kids doing an Vacation Bible School. The pastor’s wife was in charge of feeding us. We ate REALLY well. Every night she had crafted – in addition to helping us during the day–delicious authentic Mexican dishes. Very different from the so-called Mexican food we have in the states. One day I remember in particular. We were going on a picnic –let me repeat that–PICNIC. If I were planning a picnic with high school aged kids, I would grab chips and burgers or pizza without even thinking about it. She made a three course feast that started out with soup. Let me repeat that SOUP on a picnic. It was delicious and amazing. I would never think to serve soup to a group of thirty teenagers. But for her and the culture around her it was just what you did. We have definitely lost something in our culture of crunched time that pushes the need for fast food
For our lives in Richmond we have chosen to get most of our veggies from a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) called Victory Farms. To say that I love it is um, an understatement. The fresh vegetables– amazing. I am FORCED to try things I would never pick up in the grocery store but have grown to love. Beets, beet greens, kale, turnips, to name a few. I never knew I would look forward to making beets– but they are yummy. (especially the “complete beets” recipe in the vegetable cookbook at right) We also buy most of our beef, chicken, eggs, bacon, sausage, goat cheese, honey, butter, etc from Faith Farms, a local farmer who is committed to sustainable grass fed beef and free range chicken. I also buy from other vendors at the 17th Street Farmer’s Market. I still go to the grocery store for fruit (Jack loves bananas and avocados) and yogurt and dark chocolate covered almonds and other staples but I try to get mostly food and only a few “food products.” I really think this is a good rule of thumb.
I know that not everyone is in a position to make most of their food, but I have found it to be pretty easy once you start trying. I have my staples that I usually make a few times a week and then I try recipes a few times a week as well. I eat real food. I don’t do low fat. Anything low fat has been processed to make it taste right. I do try to plan out a menu for the week so I have a general idea of what we’ll be making. I use the website Epicurious and Gluten-free girl all the time to help me make impromptu dinners. Let me give you an example. Last night I made sea-trout, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, and butternut squash soup. It took a whopping 20-30 minutes to put together. I looked up sea-trout on epicurious and found a lemon/basil/parsley sauce and broiled it for 7 minutes, putting the green beans for the last few minutes covered in olive oil, salt and pepper. I put butter and maple syrup and a little buttermilk and salt with some sweet potatoes I had roasted a few days before (when I made the butternut squash soup). The butternut squash soup was leftover. It was delicious and easy. But it was real and infinitely better that “food products”
Let me challenge you to make my brownie recipe. Tell me if you think it is really that much harder than a mix and so much better tasting. It tastes REAL!
What is your take on FOOD, “food products” or anything related to the above?