Really Eating

What is Really Eating? – Part 2

Posted in Personal by Bethany on August 21, 2009
Michael Pollan, “In Defense of Food”
“What is Really Eating?” Part 2 – Real Food
The Pioneer Woman re-introduced me to the beauty of real ingredients. In my need to meticulously follow directions, I refused to substitute ingredients and quickly found myself buying butter and heavy cream, two ingredients that she uses religiously in her recipes. I always considered myself “health-conscious” and aware of what’s “good for you”, demonstrated by including vegetables at most of my meals and occasionally picking up a piece of fruit instead of a cookie. Like many others, I found myself buying a lot of products “enriched” with vitamins and minerals, fiber and antioxidants. I was trying to be healthy!
Around the same time, I picked up a couple of books that I had heard much about and been meaning to read. The first was, “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. Honestly, I thought it was a novel and was surprised to find that it was more a discouse on culture, food and health. It was fresh and engaging, telling the story of why French women supposedly “don’t get fat”. This book was a fabulous introduction to the importance of variety, seasonality of ingredients, cooking, eating more deliberately and enjoying food rather than just consuming it in front of a TV or on the way to the next appointment.
One of my favorite quotes from the book: “This means resisting the American impulse to save a step. We French are not as fiendish about finding shortcuts as Americans are. Perhaps it is why we are no longer a great power, but the trade-off is that we are not fat” (208-209).
This book primed me for what I read a few weeks later, Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food”. A number of people had told me that this book changed the way they ate and viewed food, which left me initially afraid to read it. I was afraid to fall into the Bay Area stereotype of organics-eating and farmers’ market shopping! But… after FFDGF, I deemed it an appropriate time. Besides, the head of lettuce on the cover looks SO good!
The synopsis of the book is: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Intriguing right? What does he mean “Eat food”???
“I contend that most of what we’re consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we’re consuming it–in the car, in front of the tv, and, increasingly, alone–is not really eating, at least not in the sense that civilization has long understood the term.” (7)
Interesting. Interesting. Interesting! I read this book pretty thoughtfully, really convinced of the truth behind what he said. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the importance of eating things that are real and/or made with real ingredients.
Real: rice, vegetables, fruits, cane sugar.
Not real: most bread (sandwich, enriched), most packaged snacks like Wheat Thins and Cheez-Its (sad!), high fructose corn syrup.
Food science (the industry made up of chemists and scientists who work for companies like P&G and Kraft and come up with complicated foods with lists of 40+ ingredients– ex: bread) is a more recent development and Pollan encourages his readers to eat foods where we recognize and can pronounce all of the ingredients. He reinforces the many great benefits to cooking and eating at home- not only do you know what’s in your food but you get to think about it and prepare it and enjoy it all the more. REAL FOOD!
I could go on and on about this book, but I’d recommend that you read it. Please.
Lifestyle changes quickly followed my new and improved understanding of food and what I was eating. My Safeway purchases started to look different as I stuck to the perimeter of the store and bought mostly meat/poultry, cheese/dairy and vegetables. No more Hot Pockets for me!
Fast forward a few months and I caught wind of the documentary “Food Inc’. Wow. Went to see it shortly after it released and was re-energized to eat real food and not only that, but to consider carefully all of the purchases I was making. I began researching CSAs (community supported agriculture) and am now a happy subscriber of Eat Well Farm’s CSA. I slowly weaned myself off of Safeway purchases and instead shop regularly at Berkeley Bowl and try to eat both local and organic produce. Every little bit counts!
“We are entering a postindustrial era of food; for the first time in a generation it is possible to leave behind the Western diet without having also to leave behind civilization. And the more eaters who vote with their forks for a different kind of food, the more commonplace and accessible such food will become. Among other things, this book is an eater’s manifesto, an invitation to join the movement that is renovating our food system in the name of health–health in the very broadest sense of that word.” (14)
Convinced? I hope so! At the very least, I hope your curiosity was piqued enough that you consider doing some research into whether or not you’re “really eating”.
And just in case you’re curious… to be continued in Part 3- WHAT I’M REALLY EATING.

Find Part 1 here.

“What is Really Eating?” Part 2: REAL FOOD

The Pioneer Woman re-introduced me to the beauty of real ingredients. In my need to meticulously follow directions, I refused to substitute ingredients and quickly found myself buying butter and heavy cream, two ingredients that she uses religiously in her recipes. I always considered myself “health-conscious” and aware of what’s “good for you”, demonstrated by including vegetables at most of my meals and occasionally picking up a piece of fruit instead of a cookie. Like many others, I found myself buying a lot of products “enriched” with vitamins and minerals, fiber and antioxidants. I was trying to be healthy!

Around the same time, I picked up a couple of books that I had heard much about and been meaning to read. The first was, “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. Honestly, I thought it was a novel and was surprised to find that it was more a discouse on culture, food and health. It was fresh and engaging, telling the story of why French women supposedly “don’t get fat”. This book was a fabulous introduction to the importance of variety, seasonality of ingredients, cooking, eating more deliberately and enjoying food rather than just consuming it in front of a TV or on the way to the next appointment.

One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“This means resisting the American impulse to save a step. We French are not as fiendish about finding shortcuts as Americans are. Perhaps it is why we are no longer a great power, but the trade-off is that we are not fat” (208-209)

This book primed me for what I read a few weeks later, Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food”. A number of people had told me that this book changed the way they ate and viewed food, which left me initially afraid to read it. I was afraid to fall into the Bay Area stereotype of organics-eating and farmers’ market shopping! But… after FFDGF, I deemed it an appropriate time. Besides, the head of lettuce on the cover looks SO good!

The synopsis of the book is: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Intriguing right? What does he mean “Eat food”???

“I contend that most of what we’re consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we’re consuming it–in the car, in front of the tv, and, increasingly, alone–is not really eating, at least not in the sense that civilization has long understood the term.” (7)

Interesting. Interesting. Interesting! I read this book pretty thoughtfully, really convinced of the truth behind what he said. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the importance of eating things that are real and/or made with real ingredients.

  • Real: rice, bananas, asparagus, squash, pineapple, cane sugar, raw chicken
  • Not real: Wonder Bread, Cheez-Its, Lunchables, Diet Coke, Ranch dressing

Food science (the industry made up of chemists and scientists who work for companies like P&G and Kraft and come up with complicated foods with lists of 40+ ingredients– ex: bread) is a more recent development and Pollan encourages his readers to eat foods where we recognize and can pronounce all of the ingredients. He reinforces the many great benefits to cooking and eating at home- not only do you know what’s in your food but you get to think about it and prepare it and enjoy it all the more. REAL FOOD!

I could go on and on about this book, but I’d recommend that you read it. Please.

Lifestyle changes quickly followed my new and improved understanding of food and what I was eating. My Safeway purchases started to look different as I stuck to the perimeter of the store and bought mostly meat/poultry, cheese/dairy and vegetables. No more Hot Pockets for me!

Food Inc Poster

Fast forward a few months and I caught wind of the documentary “Food Inc’‘. Wow. Went to see it shortly after it released and was re-energized to eat real food and not only that, but to consider carefully all of the purchases I was making. I began researching CSAs (community supported agriculture) and am now a happy subscriber of Eat Well Farm’s CSA. I slowly weaned myself off of Safeway purchases and instead shop regularly at Berkeley Bowl and try to eat both local and organic produce. Every little bit counts!

“We are entering a postindustrial era of food; for the first time in a generation it is possible to leave behind the Western diet without having also to leave behind civilization. And the more eaters who vote with their forks for a different kind of food, the more commonplace and accessible such food will become. Among other things, this book is an eater’s manifesto, an invitation to join the movement that is renovating our food system in the name of health–health in the very broadest sense of that word.” (In Defense of Food, 14)

Convinced? I hope so! At the very least, I hope your curiosity was piqued enough that you consider doing some research into whether or not you’re “really eating”.

And just in case you’re curious… stay tuned for Part 3- WHAT I’M REALLY EATING.

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What is Really Eating? – Part 1

Posted in Personal by Bethany on August 19, 2009

Naming this blog and explaining its meaning initially seemed like a great way to introduce the blog and what I wanted to blog about. “Really Eating”. Simple… right?

No, not really.

In my head, “Really Eating” is really simple. But, as I tried to explain it in words, it quickly turned into a discourse on cooking, the movement for “real” food, Bay Area restaurants, grocery shopping (or not), and more. So, I thought I’d break it up into parts… and then actually get into “Really Eating”.

Let’s just call this an extended introduction to “Really Eating”.

Enjoy.

“What is Really Eating?” Part 1: COOKING

I’ve always loved food, but for most of my life, I was utterly incapable of preparing it for myself. My younger brother put me to shame by learning to cook in a middle school home economics course and it wasn’t until my second year of college that I began to try to cook. In all honesty, I was terrified of burning myself on the stove, cutting off a finger while chopping, and the myriad of other dangers that seemed to plague those in the kitchen.

But alas, after my first year, I moved out of the dorms and found myself at my new apartment, hungry, without a pre-paid meal plan and without any knowledge of cooking whatsoever.

So, I called my mom.

As only moms are able to do, she placated my fears and suggested that I use the Internets to find recipes. Doh. Why didn’t I think of that? The first few months were a lot of trial and error as I tried to replicate the dishes I remembered my mom making at home. Example: pasta with tomato sauce and chicken. Thankfully, I love following directions and found myself meticulously reading each line of the instructions on the box and measuring out each cup of water. I then warmed up the store-bought sauce exactly as the jar demanded. Then, I tried to cook chicken and found that there were no helpful step-by-step instructions. So, I bolstered up the confidence to improvise and began cooking chicken on the stove. It was only a few weeks later that I complained to my mom about my chicken always getting burnt that she pointed out I should have used oil and turned down the heat. Oh. Thanks, Mom.

What I ate the next couple years were pretty much iterations of the same thing. Pasta with red sauce, pasta with white sauce, chicken, beef, fried rice, and so forth. As someone with a pretty simple palate, I didn’t really get sick of those meals and found variety by frequenting the awesome Bay Area restaurants that were only a quick walk/bus ride away. It wasn’t until I met The Pioneer Woman that my perspective on all of this changed.

I hope everyone’s familiar with The Pioneer Woman. I’ve known about The Pioneer Woman for less than 6 months and yet she’s dramatically affected the way I cook and eat. The Pioneer Woman is this lovely lady who blogs about a variety of topics, including cooking for her husband and children. She’s hilarious, honest, and so, so, helpful. What really drew me to her recipes is that she photographs and documents every, single step of her instructions, including how to cut an onion, how to peel a potato, etc. These beginner basics may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, they were Magic. Wonderful. Lovely. All of a sudden, the world was my oyster!

I don’t remember my first Pioneer Woman recipe. It might have been Pasta Primavera or maybe it was the Spicy Shrimp. All I know is that The Pioneer Woman slowly but surely helped me get over my fear of the kitchen and for that, I owe her profusely.

It just so happened that I started reading the Pioneer Woman around the same time that I was finished with school and was without work (otherwise known as Unemployed) and found myself with a lot of free time and eager to save money and eat in. I subscribed to a dozen or so of my favorite food blogs using my handy, dandy Google Reader and started trying new ingredients, buying (or borrowing) new tools and eating delicious, new food!

Fast forward a few more months and I secured a full time job. Hurrah! Although my plethora of free time quickly diminished after beginning work, I still found myself bookmarking recipes and drooling over Le Creuset dutch ovens. With my newfound apprecation for fresh ingredients, herbs & spices, and cooking in general, I began learning more and more about organics, the slow food movement, and what Michael Pollan describes as, “real food”. What is “real” food, you ask?

To be continued in Part 2 – REAL FOOD.

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