- March 1, 2014 -
For those of you who read my post about finding a family cause to get behind in 2014, we have finally decided on something: food. No, we are not all going on a diet. Neither are we trying out a new restaurant each week (as lovely as that sounds!) 2014 will be a year we dedicate ourselves to understanding the foods we consume, where they come from, why they are good or bad for us and how we can ensure that we as a family stand up for ourselves when it seems that industry can seem to be at odds with our best interests.
By way of wanting to become aware of potential toxins in our lives as we began our family, we jumped on the organic/ natural bandwagon years ago. I don’t pretend to know enough to say outright organic is always best or that processed or conventional foods are behind the ailments and diseases of the world. But innately my husband and I feel like something has gone wrong with the way we’ve been eating and the way we’ve been marketed to for most of our lives. So we want to take a hard look at our food habits, through the lens of health and humanity, and get behind this issue of real foods in whatever ways make sense for us.
This is not a research project, nor is it a way to make everything in our lives better. It is simply about listening to our guts (literally and figuratively), getting educated on something that speaks to us, and trying to make a difference, first in our own lives and then, as it makes sense to, in our community-at-large. So we begin by doing some reading, some watching and some talking. I’ll share with you our learnings on this journey.
This week I read Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Michael is a reknowned writer of all things nature and food. He argues that we need only look to our ancestors to understand how, what and when to eat. In Food Rules, he provides a breakdown of 63 simple “rules” that help guide a way of eating that promotes health, sustainability and appreciation of food. Its a short easy read full of fantastic information. He begins by addressing three basic facts:
1) Populations consuming the typical Western diet (consisting of a lot of processed foods, meats and added fat and sugars) results in high rates of Western diseases (type 2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, and more than 1/3 of all cancers
2) Populations who eat more traditional diets (diets traced back to historical cultural norms…maize and beans, as an example in Central America) do not suffer from these above diseases
3) Populations who change from the Western diet to more traditional diets dramatically improve their health.
This intrigued me enough to read through all 63 Food Rules. And they are already impacting how we eat. The gist of what Pollen advises: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Easy. Some of my favorite rules:
#2, Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Like, say no to spaghetti-o’s.
#27, Eat animals that have themselves eaten well. Grass= good. Processed corn and antibiotics= bad.
#40, Be the kind of person who takes supplements- then skip the supplements. While generally people who consume vitamins and supplements are considered healthier, its more likely that they are healthy because they do the other things that TRULY keep you healthy: exercise and eat well. So the supplements are not necessarily the reason for good health. A good diet should give you all the nutrients you need.
#51, Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it. Eating slowly is key to avoiding over-consumption. But it also allows you to savor what you eat, and also respect what it took to bring the food from seed to garden to market to kitchen to stove to table.
On the agenda this month in changing our food story:
Read: Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
See: The documentary, Food Fight & TEDxManhattan Changing the Way We Eat Teleconference on 3/1
Visit: local farmer’s market and organic farm
Do: plant herb garden
Quote of the Day:
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” -Brillat-Savarin