January 28th, 2009

Is it food?

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.


Most people don't realize this about me, but I generally tend to follow rules. I also tend to keep things in good condition-- I don't write in books or bend pages, I don't throw out the useless accessories that came with a tool I bought, etc. I throw things away immediately when I'm working on construction projects, rather than just leaving the waste around me and cleaning it all in one fell swoop when I'm done. I'm sure I get this from my mother, but whatever.

I have five Canon digital cameras now. Between them, they use four different models of battery, all very similar-looking but of slightly different size, color, and shape. They also, of course, have four different battery chargers, and the chargers are all nearly identical but not interchangeable. Trying to keep track of the cameras and batteries has always driven me batshit crazy, and has only gotten worse in the last few months with two new cameras joining in the fray.

Today I was trying to pull everything together for a shoot tomorrow night, and couldn't figure out which batteries/chargers were which. I did a lot of sticking batteries in cameras then in chargers to try to sort it out, and every charger I grabbed seemed to be exactly the wrong one. (I know. You've already thought of the perfect answer.)

"I should keep the batteries with the chargers and the cameras, so I don't have to sort this out." That thought lasted about two seconds, since I quickly realized that this was impractical approaching impossible.

"Actually, I should just label these." I started looking around for a label maker, and tried to figure out how to keep labels from falling off of batteries as they got installed and uninstalled over and over. I scratched my head.

And then, I very deliberately reached for a Sharpie marker and inscribed the camera's model number on each individual battery and charger. It was surprisingly difficult to do, since it went so deeply against my upbringing-- my brain kept trying to tell me that I was ruining things.

Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of Patti's Brain is Broken.