Sunday, January 13, 2008

Are You Being Serious?

This Saturday's Globe And Mail had a interesting article titled, Why Meals Are Better Without All The Fixings. The article is pretty much a plug for Michael Pollan's new book, In Defense of Food, An Eater's Manifesto which I have no doubt will be as great as his other's.

The book (which I have yet to read)looks in to food a little deeper and talks about eating REAL FOOD. It outlines Pollan's 12 COMMANDMENTS FOR SERIOUS EATERS I do agree with a lot of them (in my own way of course) here they are.

1. "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

That means pretty much anything processed. Margarine...nope. Microwave popcorn....see ya. That also goes for granola bars.

2. Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number — or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.

If you can't read it don't eat it.

3. "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot."

I love this and think it's a simple thing to think about when choosing foods. A maraschino cherry is one molecule away from being plastic, that baby's here to stay.
Whole foods are just that WHOLE. Anything that contains something artificial is something to avoid.

4. "Avoid food products that carry health claims."

On the rare occasion that I venture into a grocery store, I am amazed at the number of things that shouldn't have omega 3 fatty acids, claiming to be packed with them. Eggs are the HUGE one. They claim the Omega 3 is in the egg because the hens were fed Omega 3's. So it may be technically true that the intention was to have the egg be a source of essential fatty acids but are they absorbed in our Also and more importantly, Omega 3 essential fatty acids become useless (*ahem* rancid) when heated. So unless your eating raw eggs, which is not so great, stick to flax oil or fresh water fish.
Foods like cold water fish are supposed to have good oils. Yogurt by nature has active bacterial cultures, ones that claim to have a "special" bacterial culture are more than likely not that great for you.

5. "Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle."

I will take this one step further and say avoid supermarkets entirely whenever possible. The supermarket is where all the processed foods and "
non-foods" live. Most towns have a local farmers market where you can purchase fresh fruit and veg. If you're in Toronto, there are also many food box schemes like Good Food Box or Front Door Organics that will deliver to your door year round. This is expecially useful in the winter. People living in cities like Toronto or Vancouver have no excuse for shopping in large grocery stores, in my opinion.
If you can't avoid the supermarket and I know many people can't, stick to the outside where the fresh produce and other fresh foods live. The inside is where the junk lurks and is waiting for you to take it home.

6. "Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmers' market"


7. "Pay more, eat less."

"Americans spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their income on food" Canadians aren't much better. Why isn't food a priority in our society? If our bodies are our temple that why are we filling them with cheap junk?

8. "Eat a wide variety of species."

By "species" I like to think that Pollan is talking about plant species more than animal species but I didn't write the book. Eating a variety of foods is important. Making sure your plate is colourful is a good way to ensure variety. Also rotating foods throughout the week is great too.

9. "Eat food from animals that eat grass."

I'd like to change this to "be aware of the animal products you are eating and where they come from". I think it's important to make it priority to research the meat and dairy you buy and trust where it comes from.

10. "Cook, and if you can, grow some of your own food."

Not everyone can cook and I get that. That being said, things like steaming veggies and making rice are skills that are easily learned. Everyone can have simple, great tasting recipes under their belt. On the days that eating out is a must (and going to a restaurant is a great thing that no one should be deprived of), knowing how to choose the right foods is essential. Do not be afraid to ask how something is cooked or where it came from.
Growing your own food can be trickier for us city dwellers. Herbs are easy to grow, as are sprouts.

11. "Eat meals and eat them only at tables."

Coffee tables and desks don't count!

12. "Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure."

I think that this can only come naturally when all the other commandments are followed. Eating with pleasure is a big one. If you don't trust what you're eating and that it is serving your body, how can it be good for you?
This is part of why the French diet eludes us North Americans? Different cultures enjoy their food and eat it slowly, and with company. They also make sure they are eating foods that accompany each other and aid digestion and longevity. Red wine with dinner is a good thing.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a fellow nutritionist and enjoyed reading this post. I especially liked your reminders to eat natural, whole, food and the comment on maraschino cherries. Most people don't know that the red dye used for maraschino cherries is only allowed for these cherries, and is illegal to use in other foods - the red dye was 'grandfathered' in for use with these cherries, only.

About omega-3 eggs. I will add to your comment to clarify something - eggs are a natural source of DHA, the special omega-3 fat stored in the brain, and required for infant development. Feeding flax seeds to hens increases the plant source omega-3, but not the type of omega-3 naturally occuring in eggs (this seems odd to me and confusing for consumers). Flax seed is the plant source, and while flax seeds offer some omega-3, it is EPA and DHA, the omega-3s found in fish and fish oil that are proven more beneficial for human health. I work with omega-3 research and education. Please visit my blog, and send me questions if you like.

7:23 PM  
Blogger The Nutritionista said...

Thanks so much for your comment.

Your blog is great!

12:28 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Being your friend has probably added years to my life. When we outlive all our McFood eating friends, you wanna retire with me in Miami? Golden Girls style?

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Milo said...

1. "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
That means pretty much anything processed. Margarine...nope. Microwave popcorn....see ya. That also goes for granola bars.

I guess it depends on the era your grandmother grew up in. My grandmom lived off of TV dinners and canned food. I would try to fix her healthy snacks some times and she would take a small bite, say she was full, and go back to eating Kozy Shack rice pudding.

10:14 PM  
Blogger The Nutritionista said...

Dear readers,
Please note that it is
"Do not eat what your GREAT grandmother didn't recognize as food."
This was a miss-type on my part.

9:40 AM  
Blogger KGLO said...

I just read this book and loved it. He definitely has a point, and so much more common sense than a lot of people these days.

11:29 AM  

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