1. Don’t forget that tomorrow is Election day! No excuses!
2. I’ve started writing a new blog (God help us all!) for my CSA, Colchester Farm. I’m moderating it, in a way, and doing most of the posting, but we will have ocassional guest posts by the couple that runs it and other volunteers. I hope you’ll check it out- I think you’ll like it very much:
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Posted in Books, Inspirations on September 11, 2008|
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“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
The simple but appropriate philosophy of Michael Pollan in his brief book In Defense of Food.
I just finished this easy read (seriously…two days) and thought it warranted a mention/review. Michael Pollan is more widely-know for his previous book Omnivore’s Dilemma, which is currently sitting on my desk and waiting to be picked up, and this is actually the sequel, of sorts, to that one. It’s basically “what should I eat? And why?”
It boils down to this: Food scientists don’t really know what they are taking about. When they say things like “Eat more Omega-3s!” and we all rush out and start taking Omega-3 pills and eating Omega-3 fortified eggs, we’re not doing much for ourselves. Not that Omega-3s aren’t spectacular for us, but what makes them so spectacular is how they work in combination with all of the other nutrients and vitamins in the foods they are found in. In other words: Salmon and Purslane are great for you, but it isn’t just the Omega-3s that do it. Now this isn’t that food scientists are out to get us or are intentionally leading us astray, it is just that they are working against almost insurmountable difficulties trying to figure out the complexities that are foods. Do you have any idea how intricate the make-up of Broccoli is?
He makes the point that most of these foods that we eat that proclaim themselves to be the vehicles to good health are the ones that we should be the most dubious of. Mostly because they are A) packaged (when in itself is a bad sign for food) and B) created in a lab somewhere (which is a REALLY bad sign for food). His rules for eating are simple: Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t have recognized, don’t eat anything you haven’t heard of or can’t pronounce, and don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients in it. (And I should clarify that by this, he doesn’t mean you can’t eat a Quiche that is made of 9 things, but that you shouldn’t eat “butter” that has 9 ingredients in it. Butter should have two ingredients.)
He spends a lot of time talking about “The French Paradox” which is the famous fact that French people eat what food scientists and doctors are telling us are terrible for us yet they are (mostly) slender, healthy, and less prone to the diseases that plague “the Western diet.” And yet Americans are cramming their gullets with “fat-free” and “healthy” foods and we are consistently getting fatter and more diabetic and dying in shocking numbers of food-related diseases.
I’m sure you’ve all known that girl or guy who only eats Lean Quisines and Snackwell’s cookies and drinks naught but Diet Coke and yet can’t, for their life, manage to drop any weight and are the most likely to be diabetic or cholesterol-ridden. Michael Pollan’s point is that it’s because they are filling themselves with garbage and chemicals that the body has no idea what to do with. We are trying to subsist on manufactured, made-up nutrients and we aren’t built to run on that.
We need food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
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I recoginize the oddity of beginning this blog in September. It’s rapidly becoming fall here, which means things are going to be winding down soon. Now don’t get me wrong, we still have summer squash and tomatoes and strawberries but we also now have apples and Blue Hubbard squash and the first few Brussels sprouts. Everything is going to be stopping right when I’m beginning.
Well, here’s why:
First of all, I’m nothing if not impatient and impulsive. I’ve only recently started reading two wonderful blogs, Eating Alabama and Garlic Breath, that have inspired me to no end. I’m overwhelmed with awe at what they are doing and it made me want to finally do something. Pete and I have been trying to live a life of sustainability and local-eating, but boy howdy those two are really doing it. I feel like an amateur but I also feel like I want to do it too. I figured that I shouldn’t waste this excitement.
Secondly, I’m doing this now because it’s going to take planning. I had a small garden this year, but it was haphazard. We put a few things away for the winter, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked. I thought it would be useful for me to gather my plans and thoughts and really make a go of it next spring.
And last, of course, because I just about lose my mind here in the winter. If nothing else, I should be entertaining as I slide into delusion and frustration. There is a reason that the title of this blog is Surviving (on) Massachusetts. It’s as much about me lasting as it is about me eating.
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