I'd love to know your thoughts and invite you to join the conversation. ~AK
The butcher’s rack in my kitchen shelves my cookbooks. To use a poor albeit irresistible metaphor, it groans from the weight of undigested manuals on the art and craft of cooking. Of late, the central theme of the books has been shifting from cookbooks about food preparation to books about food itself. To this reader and (I can’t help myself) consumer of such books, the sources, chemical composition, care, preservation and delivery of food have become as important as the preparation and presentation of the final product.
[Note to Vegetarians ~AK]
Mine is a farm background. Much of my childhood food came from within a radius of a hundred yards from where it was consumed: a milk cow, chickens, a large garden, wild game, freshly caught fish, beef and pork raised by nearby relatives.
Even so, it did not occur to me to draw a distinction between what I ate then compared to the same -- or claimed to be the same, since they are not the same at all -- stuff bought wrapped in paper, plastic and cardboard eaten throughout my adult years.
In fact, that real food served in my childhood home was always something of an embarrassment when my city cousins showed up. “I won’t drink cow’s milk,” we heard, just one disparagement of our fresh -- but in their minds uncivilized -- foods, uttered with noses in the air.
Now comes the gradual realization that the home-grown foods of my childhood not only tasted better but also were better for us.
The latest epiphinal moment in my dietary evolution struck while reading Michael Pollan’s latest effort, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, published by The Penguin Press.
In the pantheon of good writing about food, Pollan stands out. No one gets to the ‘whatness’ of food better than Pollan. A professor of journalism at UC Berkeley, among other writing credentials, and the author of the acclaimed The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Pollan has the ‘quidditas’ of food down pat.
The book tells us not only why we should eat well (it’s good for us) but how to eat well. His simple-to-understand rules on eating should replace the entire section of diet manuals at the local Barnes & Noble. Goodbye South Beach, hello Michael Pollan.
Last fall I bought an elk from an elk ranch in Northern Missouri. Last month, the neighbor to my Ozark property sold me a grass-fed steer to butcher. These satisfied two of Pollan’s rules even before I read the book:
Buy a freezer.
Another rule contains a wry humor mixed with common sense:
Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.
The rules address the broader scope of culture, suggesting a pleasurable and decent lifestyle:
Try not to eat alone.
If one wishes to skip the book, Pollan himself summarizes it in seven words:
Michael Pollan's 2007 essay, a good introduction to In Defense of Food
~ New Food Rules? ~
Michael Pollan's asked for the food rules we apply to our own lives, so far, more than 2500 contributions! I offered the eating idea first suggested in the recipe for Squash & Carrot Stew
~ More Food References & Food Issues ~
~ The Heartbeat of Iowa ~
my own return to a family farm in Iowa
Or -- are you growing tired of being told what to eat and where to buy your food? Are you overwhelmed by all the conflicting ideas and the time and energy it would take to change your food life?
Join the conversation -- I'd love to know what you're thinking! ~AK