This afternoon, I buzzed through Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules”, which are basically his Cliff Notes on a healthy diet. His mantra is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants,” which is hard to argue with when you look at the superior health of nations who eat according to those rules. Here in America, where we eat mostly highly processed, sweetened and fatty foods, we’re on the verge of a national epidemic. Obesity and diabetes will kill more and more people each year, young and old alike, and further cripple our ailing health care system if we don’t change our eating habits. Americans literally can’t afford to keep eating this way.
Here are some of my favorite food rules from the book:
#13 “Eat only foods that will eventually rot.” It is scary that there are foods that even bacteria and fungi won’t touch.
#19 “If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.” I can follow this maybe 70% of the time, but I love cold cereal.
#27 “Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.” Costs a little more, but who wants mad cow disease?
#36 “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of milk.” My kids and husband love Fruity Pebbles, but I ALMOST never buy them.
#37 “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” Complex carbs rule.
#41 “Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.” How do you say “yum” in all those languages?
#43″ Have a glass of wine with dinner.” My favorite food rule.
#44 “Pay more, eat less.” Why are people willing to spend money on everything EXCEPT healthy food?
#58 “Do all your eating at a table.” This is harder than it sounds, but a great rule and teaches your kids good eating habits.
#59 “Try not to eat alone.” Eating is most enjoyable when it’s a shared activity.
#63 “Cook.” We only order pizza once a week. That’s not so bad, is it?
#64 “Break the rules once in a while.” My second favorite rule and essential to the sanity of anyone with kids to feed.
So, this weekend, call some friends, cook a good meal (that includes a salad) and open a bottle of wine. You’ll just be following the rules.
Posted on “Food Renegade’s” Fight Back Friday July 1, 2010
Happy Earth Day! This weekend, we planted a garden. Few things make me happier than watching my kids digging in the dirt, planting things. Maybe it’s because I come from a long line of farmers, or maybe it’s the sun-warmed, homegrown tomato I can almost taste just by thinking about it.
One of the most interesting books I’ve read recently is Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which follows four meals from field to table (from McDonald’s to foraging for mushrooms and hunting a wild boar.) It reminds the reader of how disconnected we have become from the sources of our food. One of my favorite parts of the book talks about Joel Saletin, who is a seminal figure in the sustainable agriculture movement and probably the most famous farmer in America. His bio on the FRESH movie website says:
“Joel calls himself a grass-farmer, for it is the grass that transforms the sun into energy that his animals can then feed on. By closely observing nature, Joel created a rotational grazing system that not only allows the land to heal but also allows the animals to behave the way the were meant to – as in expressing their “chicken-ness” or “pig-ness”, as Joel would say.”
This week, Joel is in town with Ana Joanes, who has made a documentary called “FRESH” that celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. It’s about food, but it’s also about economics, community and social justice. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to meet both Ana and Joel while volunteering at one of Joel’s lectures and was impressed with their optimism and sense of humor. Ana recently told planetgreen.discovery.com “I just had a little girl. Her name is Maayan. And, as clichéd as it may sound, I just want to do right by her. I don’t know what reality she’ll face when she reaches adulthood, but I’m trying my best so she doesn’t have to pick up the pieces of our recklessness and inaction.”
I saw FRESH last night in Minneapolis and loved it! The movie is just 70 minutes long, but you will want to talk about it for two hours afterwards! Tonight’s the last night it’s showing, so if you’re in the Twin Cities, don’t miss it! You can order tickets here.
The movie brings up interesting points about monocultures, antibiotic resistance, high fructose corn syrup, the corn industry (which my grandparents’ farm in Iowa is a part of,) and beneficial bacteria. I’m planning to explore many of these issues on this blog by writing a weekly post about food science between science experiments! Stay tuned!
In today’s Science Times, Jane Brody tells us that it what we eat, rather than the supplements we take, that can help us live longer, healthier lives. She claims that eating a mostly plant-based diet with plenty of good fats (i.e. the Mediterranean diet), along with plenty of exercise, seems to be the key to lowering your risk of several types of disease. Read the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/health/12brod.html?ref=science . (Even if you’re not vitamin-takers, it is important to make sure that you and your family get plenty of calcium and vitamin D, through supplements if necessary, and keep in mind that you should always follow your pediatrician’s recommendations.)