Monday, March 15, 2010

Not So Jolly Green Giant

You know how I sometimes get super angry about stuff that doesn't seem important? It's happening again. Someone gave me one of Michael Pollan's books. Someone who will ask what I think of it. I won't be able to get away with the truth.

The truth is that I have purposely avoided Pollan's books. Up to now I've been really successful. Every time one comes up I can say, "Cool, what did you think of it?" Nine times out of ten I'm not called on to contribute to the conversation after that. No matter how long it goes on.

To be fair, I don't think he's full of shit or anything. I don't expect that eating more natural foods is going to hurt anyone. I just don't want to read about it or have my diet analyzed or be handed one more recipe for kale. Is it still kale? Then, no thank you.

Right there is where my problem actually lies. Because Pollan does a decent job of leading with the fact that we should be eating unprocessed foods so it sounds like you can just eat the natural foods you like. Which is true if you skip over the "mostly vegetables" rule he's got in there. I won't be a cliche and say I don't like vegetables but I will say that the vegetables I do like are the ones that, when "the way" is being preached, come under the category of "except those." By "mostly vegetables" we're meant to understand broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, peppers and the like. I enjoy carrots and sweet potatoes and peas almost without fail. I'm a pretty big fan of squash, I guess. Spinach is the enemy. All greens are the enemy. I can and will eat broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, uncooked bell peppers, green beans among other things but my tolerance is low. Mushrooms and eggplant? Let us not speak of them.

At which point someone is bound to recommend that at least I have fruit to snack on. Bananas have all the greatest nutrients, they bubble. I'll try not to squeeze your neck too hard while I lean in close to impress upon you that I would rather you peeled me than made me eat a banana.

I am a girl with rules about her food. I always have been. Certain things squeak in my teeth, others have a detestable texture, still others just taste like homemade ass. In the last three years I have cautiously, deliberately and with prejudice redefined those rules for better health and less weight on my aging bones. I'll read the goddamned book and I'll comment on it nicely and I won't contradict his, I'm sure, super healthy ideas. But you will pry these Thin Mints from my cold, dead hands. If that's sooner rather than later, so be it.


  1. I too love thin mints... have about 6 boxes in my Freezer. They come in a green box... so I am thinking, yes, they are green and healthy food. Plus they make me so happy.
    I think the cool thing about Pollen whether you agree with him about everything or not... no matter... is that a few years ago... one could not speak against the beef industry without being dragged to court. Oprah. And now... he is going in, speaking out and revealing... its not so fabulous.
    I don't believe anyone should tell us exactly how to eat... Government, man... anyone.
    But I do like so much that it's being discussed now. The door is open. We have so many problems with diet in this country.
    I love that Jamie Oliver is taking on the schools. I love that being vegetarian now does not mean a death sentence in the restaurant industry.
    And I love that you...
    don't just agree with someone because he is writing best selling books.
    I too dislike bananas. Peel me. Made me giggle.

  2. spinich is the enemy...bwa ha ha ha! for me? green peas. never shall they pass my lips but for to save the life of you....perhaps. bananas make me gag. as well as the last bite of oatmeal. but sometimes I just mindlessly eat them because I should...

  3. While I am an unapologetic carnivore, we eat a lot of vegetables and have a couple of vegetarian meals a week. What I hope Michael Pollan is doing is educating and encouraging without making people feel bad for eating the things they love. While I love eggplant, I would NEVER inflict it on someone who was opposed to the texture, because lets face it the texture is dicey at best.

    And I will confess, I have a small plastic container of (gasp) bacon grease in my fridge that I will judiciously apply to green beans if necessary.

  4. Sounds like you need to write your OWN food rules book! I think you'd have a bestseller on your hands...

  5. And I'll call it "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO EAT: A book of rules for eating."

  6. The stroke of serendipity is that I JUST, YESTERDAY, in fact, read that book. While standing at the end cap in the book store. No shit.

    Sure, it's all good advice. Sure, it all makes sense. That's all well and good.

    The fact of the matter is that, culturally, what Pollan is asking us to do simply isn't feasible for most people. Farmer's markets in February? Not so much. I don't know many people who have the space, the time, or the inclination to bake their own bread (myself included, and I used to bake my own bread; one subtle change in my life and that's gone right out the window). It's hard to FIND food that doesn't have those unpronounceable ingredients in them - I know; I've tried.

    Here's my philosophy; Moderation is the king of all that is wise and true. I listen to the advice, and I follow what I can. I also make adjustments for time, budget, and fussy pre-teenage girls (and my fussy middle-aged husband, and my fussy middle-aged self) who simply will not eat certain foods because I'm interested in feeding my FAMILY, not my garbage bags). Remember the bumper sticker; Exercise, eat right, die anyway. The point is in the journey, right? What fun is a journey without the Thin Mints, I ask you?

  7. "...tastes like homemade ass..." Which is far better than that pre-processed ass you get at the store.

  8. I just went to the store and bought brussel sprouts, eggplant, and poptarts. I'll meet death somewhere in the middle.

  9. I rather like veggies. Not all kinds all the time, perhaps, but there aren't any I won't touch.

    I'm a bigger fan of my wife's homemade bread than anything store bought (except for a particular kind of white bread we get locally that truly makes amazing French toast), and although I prefer regular pasta to anything whole grain I've discovered that, if I allow my taste buds to acclimate to the change, I'll have no problem with the latter when it's served. I'm just not that picky an eater, I guess.

  10. Wayfarer, I tried whole wheat pasta a few years ago and...well, no. It will be very difficult to pry the white rice and white pasta away from me.

    I do enjoy vegetables but I'm still picky about them. Great care must be taken when preparing most of them. Asparagus is FABulous when cooked properly...but it's something stuck up that homemade ass when overcooked.

    I am becoming more mindful of what's in the foods I put in my mouth, but I'm more concerned about the additives and antibiotics than I am about too much sugar/fat/cholesterol.