Between Alton Brown, Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Marion Nestle, Jamie Oliver...with titles like "In Defense of Food," "Animal Vegetable Miracle," "Food Matters," What To Eat" ---you get a feel for what is going on in this country. Something is wrong with how we eat, and how we think about food. No doubt about it. There are infrastructure problems, issues with how we subsidize specific crops, pesticides, agribusiness damaging our health through diseases like MRSA and let's face it...we just eat too much. Too much fat, too much sugar, too much meat, too much alcohol. I mean, not a one of these foods is bad on it's own, but together in the quantities and qualities that we eat them...they have made us sick. And not just the after-a-Christmas-party-food/alcohol-binge sick. We're talking lowering our life expectancy. Scary.
And you can argue about the charisma or pushy-ness of whichever chef/writer/critic as you will, but realize that they all have very similar goals and they have something to say, and are so passionate about what they say that they'd do almost anything to shout it from the rooftops and have somebody listen:
1. Everyone should learn to cook for themselves. You don't have to cook coq au vin or beef bourguignon, but you should be able to feed yourself starting from raw ingredients. Plain and simple.
2. Eat minimally-processed food...the closer to the "real thing" it is, the better it will be for you. No preservatives, no FC#5, no nothing. (I made homemade caramel sauce to go with apples for the girls this fall; the number one response was "oh my gosh this is SO GOOD! I'm surprised people don't make it more often!" Me too, man. Me too. And all it is is cream, sugar, and a bit of water. That's it. No flavoring. No nothing).
3. Actually enjoy food. Although some people always have and always will love food, they seem to the the happy medium between anorexia, obesity, and being scared of becoming either one (===me).
But I don't want that to be me forever.
I saw a nutritionist last year to see how I could improve how I ate. I talked about what I normally ate, what I drank...and her response was to stop eating sweets, switch to diet soda, start using alternative sugars like sucralose or stevia. I kind of looked at her, dumbfounded.
"Well, I know what one should do...that's not the issue. If I would have been able to just stop eating sweets before now, I certainly would have. That's why I came here. And honestly, I don't want to stop eating sweets. Just eat less of them. And I don't drink soda...and I'm certainly not going to start eating artificial sugars. So what I need is a solution that fits into who I am...not someone who drinks soda, someone who loves her veggies and loves to cook, but also loves her chocolate...and needs help fitting that habit and love into my life a bit better."
She gave me this look, that I was suggesting something so fundamentally against her training---as a nutritionist--- that I just wasn't "following the rules" or something. When a nutritionist says something, I guess you're supposed to listen. But it's listening to her that was the problem, it's the implementing.
"Well, you just have to eat less. That's all."
So, I'm left in this limbo of drooling over food blogs, going home and eating SO MUCH delicious Tea House and homemade meatballs, coming back here and subsisting on homemade yogurt and frozen peas (seriously my favorite) ---and let's be serious, a heckuva lot of chocolate. But I'm left wanting to be able to bridge that gap; to enjoy all of the above, but do it better. But to have to stop worrying about portion sizes, I need to fix mine. To stop stressing about how much chocolate I need to consume and enjoy what I do eat, I need to eat less. But then there's the crucial "how" --that's where I'm stuck right now. I need to figure things out for myself, since there is no one else out there to do it for me.
[[speaking of---one of the things health care reform needs is to train better nutritionists; people who are able to LISTEN and HELP people in a preventative care fashion. people like me. and everyone else. I'm not going to go gangbusters on the idea that "everyone must eat salads all day!" ---but I will go gangbusters on the idea that everyone should eat well for themselves and well to reduce health care spending. it's possible, yo.. So yes, Obama...pay attention.]]