What is “REAL Food?”
“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Those three small statements are how Michael Pollan chose to begin his ‘eater’s manifesto’ known as “In Defense of Food.” It seems so simple. And yet for the past 70-80 years or so, Western culture has taught us the exact opposite. Now, instead of filling our plates with fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and other nourishing foods, we choose to stuff our mouths with little but processed, refined, scientifically engineered foods that, to Pollan, are better known as food-like substances.
Growing up in a family of cultured foodies, I’ve always considered myself to have a pretty decent grasp on “good food.” However, the typical woes of dorm-living in college taught me to find solace in many a box of sugary, processed cereal, or one of those far-too-delightful microwaveable cakes with the caramel drizzle. (Anyone remember the names of those?) …which all of the above resulted in a lovely extra 10 pounds. Surprise, Surprise.
Which led me to my health-nut phase where I attempted to eat “healthy” by counting carbs, fat grams, and sodium: limiting my menu to green vegetables, canned tuna, and diet soda. As you can guess, I lost the extra 10 pounds and then some… but little did I know, I still wasn’t truly healthy. The years following were some strange combination of the two eating styles, occasionally with a week or two of weight watchers thrown in… and so the word “diet” became a pseudonym for losing weight, rather than its true definition: the kind of food a person or community habitually eats.
And now here I find myself. Early twenties, married to a med student, and trying to figure out how to feed my family well on a small budget. So, true to my “watch-tower” ways, I researched. And straight into the lap of other frugal, real food inspired individuals I fell. After years of yo-yo dieting, everything seemed to make sense.
I didn’t need to count points or grams or anything of the sort – I simply needed to eat REAL, nourishing food.
And so, this past spring, we embarked on a lovely adventure to cleaning out our pantry of all things fake, and filling our bellies with all things real. This journey has taught me things about food and nutrition and life that I never imagined… and I continue to learn daily. Hence, this lovely little blog where I get to share the realities of choosing real food on a daily basis… I’ll start later this week by posting some of the specific guidelines we try to eat by in our home. Until then, I leave you with this eye-opening quote about food choices in the modern century from “In Defense of Food.”
“Eaters have real choices now, and those choices have real consequences, for our health and the health of the land and the health of our food culture–all of which, as we will see, are inextricably linked. That anyone should need to write a book advising people to “eat food” could be taken as a measure of our alienation and confusion. Or we can choose to see it in a more positive light and count ourselves fortunate indeed that there is once again real food for us to eat.”