In retrospect, it was one of those serendipitous moments. I was returning from a week long binge eating and drinking bender in New Orleans, sick with some horrid stomach ailment and ragged from lack of quality REM time. I walked into the airport newsstand to buy the Times and saw Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules. I was obviously aware of the book but had avoided it for fear of what it was going to say about my personal eating habits. Feeling like it was time for a change, I bought it, stuck it in my back pocket and boarded the plane.
While reading Food Rules, which took me all of about 45 minutes, I marked passages and sections that I found amusing, personally important or simply indispensible. What I found out, is that other than eating way too much restaurant food, a common hazard among people in this industry, that my diet is really healthy. I also realized that I eat too fast, often too much but that most of my habits are pretty sound. I was relieved.
I did find that I have one unfair advantage when it comes to avoiding a major culprit in making America too heavy. I am “allergic” to corn products and highly reactive to anything with anything over a trace amount of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). I use the word allergy loosely hear to describe a reaction similar to intense indigestion. Without corn and by limiting refined sugar and white flour my diet is extremely uncommon to the Western diet, as Pollan describes it.
Food Rules affirmed my beliefs that all diets are bad diets, that anything packaged needs to be looked at very carefully and the word “lite” or “low fat” usually means more sugar. Pollen really sums it all up in Rule 1, very simply…Eat Food. Food in this case meaning anything that grows in the ground or eats from it. We cooks love real food…especially the ones that are not always so great for you…pork…butter…mayo…eggs…cream…but even these, in moderation, are far better for you than what the “Food Industry” is trying to feed us and our kids.
This book is important. It’s important to understand and digest what is being said and what it means for us as American eaters. If you are not sold, as least check out some of the excerpts from the book Tara Parker Pope ran on her Well blog on nytimes.com.
I am surrounded by food…all day…all the time. It’s really hard to manage and for any of you who have seen me, you know I won’t be shopping the latest European styles at H&M or Xara this spring. But, I try to eat for the long run and my hope is that you try to do the same. Food Rules can help us all do it just a little better.