But What About Azodicarbonamide?

May 9, 2008 at 3:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

So, item number two on Michael Pollan’s list of how-tos:

*Avoid Food products containing Ingredients that are:  a) unfamiliar,  b) unpronounceable,  c) more than five in number, or that include  d) high-fructose corn syrup.

Okay – so how hard can that be, right?  Riiiiiight. 

All right class, what are the basic ingredients of bread?  Anyone know?  All right, it’s flour, water, yeast, salt.  You can add other things as you bake for flavor or whatever, but you need those FOUR ingredients to have a legitimate loaf of bread at the end of the line. 

Now, have you ever walked down the “bread” aisle at the grocery store and looked at the ingredients list on the items being sold to the average american as bread?  Pollan uses the example of Sara Lee’s Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread.  But it fails EVERY part of rule #2 – azodicarbonamide fails in both pronounceability and ingredients I’ve never heard of, it contains FORTY-ONE ingredients (um, that’s 1000% too many), and it contains high-fructose corn-syrup.  YIKES!

So what does this mean to me?  Well, it means that since I didn’t have time to make bread this week, I spent 20 minutes trying to find a loaf of bread the other day that was even REMOTELY close to the 5-ingredient list.  (Turns out Walmart’s bakery sells a loaf of Sourdough with only 5 ingredients … *phew*)

What about other foods?  Even some YOGURT and basic CEREAL fail this test.  I’m going to be eating a lot of oatmeal, I guess.


The Great-Great-Grandmother Diet

May 8, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

“In Defense of Food” starts out with three rules – Eat Food.  Not Too Much.  Mostly Plants.  I’m going to be trying to follow his guidelines, but in order to prevent information overload and allow me to be a little more in depth on each guideline.  The first:

*Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.

For a long time, I’ve felt that American recipes, under the guise of “foodieness” have gotten WAY too complex.  And it includes ingredients that are exceptionally processed.  Michael Pollan talks about imagine taking your great-great-grandma to the grocery store.  If she would ask you what a product is … you shouldn’t be eating it.  For example – would grandma recognise non-dairy creamer?  Or tri-color pasta, or spaghetti-os?

For me, this rule will definitely involve a lot more cooking – and the purchasing of the relatively non-processed foods around the outside of the grocery store.  Meats, dairy, fruits and veggies.  I don’t know what grandma would think of Hamburger Helper.  🙂

Book Review: In Defense of Food

May 8, 2008 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is somewhat out of the ordinary for me.  And I feel a little like I’m in 4th grade again, writing a book report.  However, this book – and the “dietary implications” thereof – really spoke to me.  So here I am, writing a review of a book that has (at least in a small way) changed my eating habits, and as a result, my life.

The book is called “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan.  He is a Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley – not a nutritionist, not a food scientist, not a chef – and definitely NOT an employee of the FDA.

The main premise of this book is that the “Western Diet” – the way Americans eat – is the root cause of many of the diseases which have sprung up in the 20th century and are now killing us en masse.  Diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, etc. are some of the diseases I’m referring to – and they are strongly “encouraged” by our current diet.  Think back to the way your great-great-grandmother would have eaten … did any of those foods include high-fructose corn syrup, mono and di-glycerides, and (my personal favorite) monosodium glutamate?  In fact, could your grandmother have PRONOUNCED those words?

The book has three sections – The Age of Nutrionalism, The Western Diet and the Diseases of Civilization, and Getting Over Nutritionalism.  To sum up, he covers how we’ve gotten to the point that we will stop eating natural foods like (*gasp*) eggs in favor of chemical-ridden, processed “imitation food”.  Then, he discusses how the foods that we eat relate to the diseases we suffer.  Finally, what he suggests as a solution to this issue.  (Which I will cover in a post to follow soon)

Overall – an extremely well-written book.  It is thought-provoking, well-researched, and (mostly) un-biased.  The author discusses both sides of each issue, and, while you can see where he stands clearly and easily, allows you to make your own decision in the end.

I would recommend this book to anyone … and I do.  Go and buy the book … seriously.  You won’t regret it.

An Update

May 8, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I know, it sounds like an excuse (because, well, it is), but I am apologizing now for the recent “death” of my blogging.  I have been working 60+ hours a week at the restaurant and its been taking its toll on me, both mentally and physically.  Being a restaurant server is one of the hardest jobs I can imagine, and doing it well is sometimes extremely difficult.

That being said, however, I have been offered (and have accepted) a position with a local Health Care company, helping in their Worker’s Compensation Processing department.  This is a regular, 8:30-5 job with regular hours.  I should be able to pick up my blogging (and, for that matter, cooking) again successfully when I am once again working normal hours.  Until then, I’ve got a post or two up my sleeve that should tide you over.

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