If you are curious about how my St. Patrick’s Day supper turned out, I posted the story and photos on Sunday: Our St. Patrick’s Day Supper.
Book: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan, illustrations by Maira Kalman
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Publication date: 2011
Summary: This is the 2009 book by Michael Pollan, Food Rules, rendered in color and texture. It contains an added new introduction by Michael Pollan and one by the illustrator Maira Kalman in her energetic handwritten style.
Thoughts: I picked up Food Rules when it was first published, glanced through it and decided there was nothing new after reading In Defense of Food, so I put it back. I’m glad that the Maira Kalman illustrations brought me back to this book because it is something different. The information might not be new if you read In Defense of Food, but the purpose is new and it’s a purpose that I’ve begun to think is vitally important. Food Rules is about conversation, how we can talk about food in ways that changes our view of what is normal, because the current normative messages in our society are warped.
I never believed that a Sourdough Jack bacon cheeseburger and french fries was a healthy meal. I did, however, completely buy in to the notion that it was a normal meal, perfectly reasonable for lunch once a week, sometimes more. Three years of better eating later, and that doesn’t look reasonable to me at all. If I were going to eat that much starch and protein together in one meal with only a couple of tomato slices for a veggie, it would have to be a very special occasion. And, if it’s a special occasion, why am I eating alone in my car?
To hit those flavor points now, I would prefer a visit to a steakhouse with a friend for filet mignon with steak fries. (Look! I’ve already reduced the starch components by half! Or, say a third, so I can take a few bites of the roll if it looks good.) Let’s order a salad because steak houses have beautiful salads. I would probably eat, and thoroughly enjoy, a half dozen or fewer of the steak fries. In all likelihood, I would only eat about a third of that steak. Because what really sounds good to me as I write this are the two cold steak sandwiches I could make for lunches later in the week on my home-made bread to serve alongside one of my giant salads.
One great special occasion, two wonderful leftover meals, and all for not many more calories than that one fast food meal. Especially since, let’s face it, it’s March. I would have ordered a mint-oreo shake to go with that bacon cheeseburger and fries. Yes, I would have spent three to five times the money for the initial outlay at the steakhouse (don’t forget, I got the premium part of three meals out of that), but this isn’t something I would do every week, maybe not even every month. I’m convinced I spend much less money on food now that I don’t eat too much of it.
No one is more surprised than me by these thoughts. I haven’t eaten at Jack in the Box since sometime in 2009, and yet my brain easily produced the rule that March equals green shakes. Apparently, I haven’t erased the old circuitry with my new ways of thinking, but I’ve laid down enough new circuitry that the old ways don’t seem normal to me now. Now, my normal rules are ones like these in Food Rules:
- 7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.
- 21. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
- 28. Eat your colors.
- 37. Sweeten and salt your food yourself.
- 63. “The banquet is in the first bite.”
I don’t follow all of those rules 100% of the time, but often enough that they seem more normal to me than a bacon cheeseburger that arrives through the car window. The change in my thinking from modern American consumer to normal healthy person corresponded with a change in my weight from obese to normal. Those changes were aided by inserting myself in conversations that are based on Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, in contrast to the marketing slogans that invade my brain when I’m not being attentive.
Appeal: Eaters who find the current food environment challenging.
- Weekend Cooking: Review: Food Rules by Michael Pollan, Illustrated by Maira Kalman. The Beth Fish Reads review includes more about the illustrations, which really make this book a treat.
- Weekend Cooking: Book Thoughts on *Food Rules* by Michael Pollan and Maira Kalman. Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books included some quotes and a lovely video. The Food Rules book started conversations around her dinner table.
Not a review, but The Aspiring RD was also thinking about steak this week. She explains how one study can generate these two opposing headlines: “All red meat is bad for you” and “Are Burgers Healthy? Why Red Meat is NOT Bad for You.” She also prefers to make red meat an occasional and special part of her diet. She makes hers at home: An RD-to-be Who Celebrates Steak Night Fridays.
Challenges: This is book 7 of 16 for the 2012 Foodies Read 2 challenge.
Check out today’s post at Beth Fish Reads for more Weekend Cooking adventures around the web.