Sunday, January 11, 2009

Seven Powerful Words

Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants
                                                          - Michael Pollan

In my last post, I waxed inelegantly about eating real food and how it is worth the effort and expense to eliminate, as much as possible, processed foods from your diet.   I have to admit it wasn't until I read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma that I began to understand just how perverted food has become in this country. Not only has food become perverted, so has our thinking about it.  And the more perverted our thinking becomes - the more money big agri-business stands to make.  But that's not really the point of this post.  If you want to know more about that - go get The Omnivore's Dilemma from your public library.  It's worth the read.  Plus, Michael Pollan is a great writer.  

I just stumbled across this NY Times blog entry: An Omnivore Defends Real Food  and started thinking a bit more about my rant about real food.  I also thought about a huge debate I tried to have with my partner's nephew's fiance.   We live in GA.  Tomatoes are not in season in January in GA.  My partner and I don't buy fresh tomatoes in January because 1) they taste horrible and 2) the carbon foot print it took to bring them here is quite huge.  We will buy tomatoes starting in June.  And hopefully, my garden will produce some this year.  Anyways, the debate was not possible - Jane (name changed to protect everyone's privacy) didn't get it.  My partner and I tried and tried to the point of being almost rude, but her stock answer was "I like tomatoes and what can one person do anyway?"

I think what saddened me is that Jane didn't seem to get it that her body deserves more than inferior tomatoes shipped in from Chile.   What saddens me more is that most of the population doesn't get it either.  And until we do, we're stuck with sorry tomatoes in January.

Wait.  Aren't tomatoes good for you?  Of course.  But fresh tomatoes in January (in GA) can not be locally grown.  They have to go travel half way across the country at best, but the more likely scenario is that they traveled half-way across the globe.  Picked well before they were ripe so they could survive the trip.  Why?  Because we've become greedy.  We like fresh tomatoes so we are entitled to have them in January.  Nope.  I don't buy it.   The costs - fiscal, environmental and social - are too great.

Yikes - I still haven't gotten to the Seven Powerful words.   If you can't tell, I get a bit passionate about this.  Let me try to get back on topic here.  Many people spend tons of time looking for the perfect diet.  Weight Watchers.  Jenny Craig.  South Beach, Atkins, etc. etc.  The perfect diet is summed up in seven powerful words: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.

Michael Pollan is not an diet expert.  But he's spent quite a bit of time researching the quality of our food and has seen correlations between eating food-like substances and obesity.  I know that I am far more satisfied with one piece of superb dark chocolate than I am an entire Snickers bar. Why?  Snickers has too many food like substances in its ingredient list.  But Pollan isn't advocating a chocoalte diet. Or  butter diet.  But a diet of real food where plants take center stage.  Not vegetarian, but more plants than animals.   And if you think about it - if you do that, your caloric intake should naturally reduce.  

It's not onerous.  Just takes a bit of discipline and planning.  And maybe a spirit of adventure to give fresh veggies a chance.

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