"Yet I wonder if it doesn't make more sense to speak in terms of an American paradox-that is, a notably unhealthy people obsessed by the idea of eating healthily."
-Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma
After reading this book, I've vowed never to buy my family conventionally fed meat again (if you really want details, just read the book. For now I'll just say...ick.)
But let me also be the first to tell you that I am not going crazy over the *whole* food thing.
I found this book at the last library book sale and finally picked it up to read it. It's older now (copyright 2006) but definitely a good read if you want to know where your food comes from and what it goes through to get to your table. I don't agree with everything Pollan writes (he is on a different political plain than I am!) but I do appreciate his criticism of Americans and our "fad diets."
I have to confess...we rode the fad wagon for a while. Hubs lost a lot of weight in college when he switched to a vegetarian diet. For a while we tried to maintain a vegan diet after we got married, but soon after I started having reactions to all that soy milk we were drinking and as a card-carrying carnivore I still brought home a lot of chicken (but no bacon), so that was that. We've had fits of trying a dairy-free diet since Hubs and my daughter are lactose intolerant, but it is so much easier to just focus on being lactose free (and I love me some cheese). We even tried the low carb thing when I was pregnant with my son, but I still found myself downing PB and J's at midnight. All attempts at eating more "healthy"...the American way.
In the midst of those "diets" I often felt plagued by a sense of anger and self-pity at being denied food I really enjoyed. Paradoxically, I also gave in to a mean sense of pride in how I well I was doing at helping my family be healthy. The food "systems" became a form of idolatry to me. It was all I could think about. After a while, the roller coaster ride of failure and pride (and all that soy milk) made me sick of myself and I chose to get off. For a while I just didn't care what we were eating, as long as it was within our budget and easy to make with at least one little person under my feet.
After reading this book I think I've found a more satisfying middle ground. We buy organic when we can afford it (goodbye Dirty Dozen!) I buy organic, grass-fed meat now so many more of our meals are centered around protein sources that don't include meat in order to stay within the budget. More variety=more healthy. And I get to experiment with different recipes, much to Hub's delight (I hope you sense my sarcasm.) I also make sure I can pronounce most of the ingredients on the label. But most importantly, we don't cut anything out. Balance is key.
I have also learned to relax. Last week I was down for the count with a cold and Hubs bought us McDonald's for dinner. Yes, I knew what was in those chicken nuggets. But you know what? I ate them anyway. Because life is about so much more than the food you eat or don't eat.
Be educated. Do your best to be healthy. But as my Hubs' Italian grandmother used to say (and I loved her all the more for it), it all comes down to one action and one action only: "EAT!"