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[icon] Is it food? - Patti
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Subject:Is it food?
Time:10:09 pm
Michael Pollan, author of wonderful books about nutrition and the state of the American diet, offers the following advice:
Don't eat anything that your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

It's an excellent recommendation aimed at guiding us away from processed foods and back toward things that are nutritious and healthy. As I wander through my un-diet, it's one of my general rules of thumb-- not an absolute, but something that's basically a good idea.

I think it needs a slight modification for an urban, multicultural society-- my great-great-grandmother certainly wouldn't recognize chicken tikka, tom kha gai, truffles, or any number of wonderful tasty things as food. Since I'd rather not be guided by the limited variety from 100 years go, I'm extending the rule a bit, while keeping the general principle-- if it's good enough for gramma Nguyen, it's good enough for me.

How was my shopping trip tonight?
  • tomatoes
  • bananas
  • onions
  • orange juice
  • cereal
  • bread

I don't know about cereal, and store-bought bread is a hair questionable, but in general I'd say I hit the principles pretty well.

I also made one modification to the roasted tomato soup recipe I posted recently: garnish with fresh basil that you just picked off of your AeroGarden. I love being able to just walk over and pick fresh herbs, and in a few weeks I should have salad greens too.
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terrencechan
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 07:10 am (UTC)
Meh.

I mean, whole foods are great and all, but in our current society, it's an oversimplification.

I know you qualified by saying "rule of thumb" and "not an absolute", but still...

White flour has been around for forever. Whey protein isolate powder, not so much. Which would I rather have more of in my diet?

It just seems like a cute way of saying "eat more fruits/vegetables/meats/nuts and less potato chips and TV dinners" -- a statement which is far better advice, but doesn't sell nearly as many books.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 06:30 pm (UTC)
I know which one of those that I'd rather have in my diet, and it's not the same one you would choose.
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terrencechan
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-30 03:16 am (UTC)
Why? What makes you prefer a cake over a protein shake?
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-30 08:23 am (UTC)
I'd rather have a piece of chicken or fish than a protein shake. I'd rather have a slice of white bread than some bizarre energy bar.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 10:19 pm (UTC)
Actually, in thinking about it, no. What he was saying was that you should focus on eating food rather than nutrients. I'm pretty sure whey protein isolate powder would be exactly the sort of thing that he was advising against.

The original article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?fta=y
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wild_irises
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-30 06:44 pm (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree. For one thing, my great-grandmother knew that tomatoes were poisonous.
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jellymillion
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 09:29 am (UTC)
Referencing what I've already boringly gushed recently, get a breadmaker, then you can consider the nature of the flour instead. Although it's probably ground from GM wheat anyway, and I dunno what Grandma would have thought of that. Better start sourcing organic wholemeal flour. Actually, given the experiences we've had from our recent conversion to breadmaking, that would probably result in some completely awesome bread. Overall effort not significantly the same as stopping to choose a loaf in the shops, btw.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 09:37 am (UTC)
I have a breadmaker, and have had for over a decade. I don't use it very often because I eat little bread at home-- it gets stale so fast that I usually end up throwing most of a loaf out. There's a reasonably healthy 12-grain bread sold around here that comes in half-size loaves, and keeps for a week.
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jellymillion
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-02-02 10:52 pm (UTC)
Ah. Please excuse the newbie enthusiasm of the born-again breadie...
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rmd
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 12:36 pm (UTC)
how about "Don't eat anything that SOMBODY'S great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."


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bldrnrpdx
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 02:53 pm (UTC)
Never mind the "greats": My grandmother wouldn't recognize many "real foods" as such - she was brought up in, then married into, then raised Meat And Potato folk. She'd have recognized some vegetables by sight, but have had no idea what to do with them as far as food prep. She was definitely not impressed by *ethnic* foods (though she did learn to like a couple of American-Chinese dishes, as the grand- and great-grandkids liked chinese a lot. And by "American-Chinese", I mean the Very 70s American versions of Chinese food). I like the idea of borrowing a gramma for this exercise.
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stevecohen
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 02:59 pm (UTC)
Your great-great-grandmother was named Nguyen? Boggle...

I have a simple requirement for my bread when I pick it - I find a loaf that does not contain HFCS under the assumption that if the producer bothered not to use it, he may have bothered in other healthy ways as well.
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brec
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 06:24 pm (UTC)
I'd interpret "recognize" (as food) in the sense of acknowledging legitimacy or validity rather than the sense of identifying from previous experience. After an explanation of what was being presented, I think g.-g.-grandma would recognize chicken and spices—even ones she hadn't yet tasted, so bring on the chicken tikka! Likewise for truffles, etc., but not say, most of the ingredients of an Atkins Advantage bar.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 06:29 pm (UTC)
Phbhbhttt. It's more fun to adopt an ancestor from another culture.

An Atkins Advantage bar sounds exactly like what I don't want to eat, but that's been true since before MP wrote books about food.
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evwhore
Subject:link fail
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-29 07:33 pm (UTC)
the AeroGarden link is missing an h.
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yesthattom
Link:(Link)
Time:2009-01-30 02:47 pm (UTC)
It's amazing that Michael Pollan could be so funny in Monty Python and then have a second career writing those fantastic books.
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[icon] Is it food? - Patti
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