I am obsessed with food lately. Not in an unhealthy way, I don’t think (except for my marshmallow lunch last weekend). I’ve been reading a lot of books about food and eating. Not diet books, which I’m done with, I think. Just food books. I read Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (good) and “In Defense of Food” (very good). I also recently finished Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (which was also very good).
I think, out of all the things I took away from the weight watchers meetings I went to was the mantra that our leader would say at least once each meeting: “Pretty soon, you won’t even want to eat _____.” That bothered me. I don’t want to live in a world where I don’t want the occasional slice of pizza, bowl of ice cream (except for the part where I’ve developed severe lactose intolerance, but you know what I mean) or plate of French fries. I also had problems with the packaged foods that were for sale at every meeting. Not that I didn’t occasionally buy them – and they certainly weren’t required.
However, I have to agree with what Michael Pollan’s main thesis in “In Defense of Food:” Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
He does a long description of what “food” is. It is not, as many of us suppose, things that are edible. He has a few “tests” to determine if it’s actually food.
- Your great (or great-great) grandmother would recognize it as food. This apparently eliminates go-gurts & twinkies (and Little Debbie snack-cakes, Brad)
- If it has ingredients, you recognize them all
- It has 5 or fewer ingredients
- It makes no exciting health claims (eat this to lower your cholesterol, etc.)
I’ve been trying very hard lately to eat food. More specifically, local foods that are in season. For instance, last night, we had roast chicken (got from New Seasons Market, the chicken apparently lived around here and had a good life – I’m assuming a bit on that last part) with fresh herbs (picked from my herb garden), potatoes (some from the garden, supplemented with potatoes from my local organic food delivery) and green beans & peas (also from my garden). We had some wine (from southern Washington – although I’m a little less strict about my wine than my chicken).
It was delicious. As the architect & I ate, I commented that although this was the kind of meal I grew up with (except instead of imagining that the chicken had a good life, I would have known for sure, because I would have personally chased that chicken at least once, which makes for a very good life, right?) this was not necessarily the kind of meal the majority of Americans are sitting down for, if they even sit at all.
I am planning on tripling the size of my garden next year, and although I can’t keep & butcher my own chickens (the architect won’t let me, although I’m sure I’m capable of it), I am hoping to can & freeze enough to supplement our meals next winter. (Also, I’m planning on catching & killing relocating to a nice farm with nice people t that damn mole so it can’t kill so much of my crop (like all my vines – even the zucchini).
I was particularly struck by the time/money meal ratio. In the past decades the amount of time spent preparing, eating & cleaning up meals has dropped. The amount of money we spend on food is less than 10% of our budgets. Conversely those (stubbornly not fat) Frenchies spend close to 20% of their budgets on food, and spend a LOT more time at the table. Their portions are also smaller – so they take longer to eat less. None of this is earth-shattering news. Any of us who have ever looked at our food intake and considered weight loss know these things.
However (and don’t tell the architect, he might not know I’m doing this) I am making a decided shift towards having only food in the kitchen. We may have to plant a fig tree so he can still have his Fig Newtons, but lately, we’ve been eating food. It doesn’t take much longer to prepare, it tastes better, it’s easier to eat more slowly and know when satiety has been reached, and one feels better afterwards.
I have a few passions in life – reading, writing, gardening & cooking are the big four. (Martini drinking is my raison d’être, not a passion.)
So, in non-food news: yesterday, I had coffee (kind of food related) with the lovely Alisa. I was unable to convince her that Portland is a great place to live (it might have helped if the sun had been shining). Tomorrow Alisa & I (and possibly/hopefully HTC) are headed to Bikram. I’ve never tried it before, and I’m a bit nervous, partially because of the wonky knee. BUT, I am excited, because I love, love, love yoga (but hate 24 Hour Fitness yoga) and have been thinking about getting back into it. Even if I don’t love Bikram, it might be just the catalyst I need to find a studio I do love.
Tomorrow night is my big, exciting party. I would like to apologize in advance for the giant hole in the yard. Someday it will be a beautiful driveway! Just not by tomorrow.
Happy weekend, y’all.