In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
The message in this book is simple… eat whole foods, don't overeat, and enjoy what you eat. It's seemingly straightforward advice, but far more complex when we look at how our diets have evolved and why.
When I was growing up my mother bought margarine because it was considered healthier than butter. I remember biting into sandwiches made of white bread lined with margarine. She was doing what she thought was best for her family, but we now know that the process used to turn vegetable oil into margarine produces trans-fats.
The food industry has transformed whole foods into something seemingly familiar, yet so different. As a result, our health is now at stake. And...we’ve become so intrigued with individual nutrients that we’ve lost sight of the food itself. Instead of eating the whole food, we’ve been sucked into believing that the transformed is somehow healthier.
In his book, Pollan reminds us that “…even the simplest food is a hopelessly complex thing,” and that by looking at individual nutrients, we lose sight of what truly makes food good. He recommends that we grow our own food or get it from a local source (like a farmers market), and when we can we should purchase organic. Pollan reminds us that even though processed foods may be cheap, convenient and require little effort to prepare, they come at a great cost to our health.
If you’re interested in developing a more complete understanding of what we we find in the aisles at the grocery store, you should read this book. I would also recommend reading “The Omnivore's Dilemma.” In fact, I would read that first. Either way you’ll finish this book with a better understanding of our food industry and our health as a nation... and the next time you enter the grocery store you'll make informed, healthy choices.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Well, not too long ago, she became a vegetarian and she's been cooking up a storm these days. It turns out, she's very creative in the kitchen. She made this sandwich a few weeks ago and I've been begging her to make it again. It's just the best!!
A Summer Sandwich
You're favorite artisan bread
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
1-2 avocados, sliced
colossal green olives, sliced (she gets them from a salad bar)
Slice the bread into thick slices. Lightly oil one side and grill until golden. Begin layering the rest of the ingredients onto the toasted side of the bread... spinach, avocado, tomato slices and olives.
She serves this sandwich with grilled corn on the cob and watermelon... Yum!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The following is the most recent article written by my Uncle Gene. It's great! Once again, thank you Uncle Gene!
In 1980, when I asked a class of about 100 students how many were vegetarians, four raised their hands. A recent U.S. poll of adults found that number still holds, but that 8% of people never eat meat, 1% are vegan (using no animal products), and 15% of students never eat meat. (Details available at www.harrisinteractive.com.)
The most frequent question raised of vegetarians is: “Do you get enough protein?” Various websites suggest that 75 grams of protein a day is enough for a person weighing 150 pounds, so with some very simple math, it should not be too hard to figure how many grams a day you need. Vegetarians get more than the requisite amount if they eat some combination of beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, tempeh, and chickpeas. If you look at the labels on bread or oatmeal or cereals, you can see how easy it is to have an adequate protein intake, without deriving protein from animal sources. Most vegetarians favor a variety of vegetables, from sweet potatoes to broccoli, and most vegetarians eat a variety of fruits, including oranges, apples, grapes, cantaloupe, berries, and whatever fruits happen to be in season. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient, although the requirement for it is very low. Vegetarians who eat dairy products or eggs have no difficulty fulfilling their requirement, but those who do not, medical authorities say, should take a Vitamin B12 supplement.
Most vegetarians choose that way of life for reasons of health: nothing makes a person a vegetarian faster than being diagnosed with coronary artery disease, possibly related to an excessive intake of animal fats. Francis Moore Lappe, in her 1973 book Recipes for a Small Planet, noted that it takes seven pounds of grain to produce one pound of animal protein, and that the planet’s ecosystems would be much better off if people just ate the grain directly, decreasing the length of the food chain, reducing the number of animals raised for food, and the amount of animal waste that contaminates land and water.
In the 1980s, Pritikin and MacDougall Programs emphasized the health benefits of diminishing or eliminating animal fats, decreasing the intake of salt and sugar, and increasing the amount of physical activity. So in thirty years, the same messages are still being broadcast, the same warnings still occur on the nightly news, and the movement towards healthier living still seems in its infancy. A publication from the Vegetarian Resource Group says nothing that was not known thirty years ago: “The key to a healthy vegetarian diet, as with any other diet, is to eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Limit your intake of sweets and fatty foods.”
The trend toward vegetarianism is gradual, but it appears to be picking up speed. Extremism, however is no virtue, as a recent comment by Dr. Michael Chu, an NYU resident who treated a patient who ate nothing but bok choi: “I don’t want to say people shouldn’t be eating raw vegetables, but everything in moderation — even things that are good for us.” He added that simply cooking some vegetables increases their nutritional values. But in the back of the minds of many vegetarians is a concern for animal welfare, and the saying of Mahatma Gandhi rings true: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated.” Beans, anyone?