Eat Food (Or Advice from Michael Pollan or What’s in Your Bread?)

This past weekend my husband and I visited my son in St. Paul. It was a delayed celebration of his 21st birthday. Every kid’s dream, right? 

Logan typically has an itinerary planned for when we visit. He is quite adept at finding great places to eat (even making sure there are plenty of vegan options for me), and for finding fun, out of the ordinary places to hang out.

Friday night he had a track meet, so after watching him compete, the Hubby and I dined sans Logan at a place called Shish, just a block or two off of campus. Best portobella burger ever. And the fries were quite yummy as well.

Saturday morning we picked him up and had brunch at the French Meadow Bakery (vegan waffles, fresh fruit, and a soy latte). Afterwards we ran some errands, and wrapped up the afternoon at this quaint little bookstore near his school. I absolutely love bookstores, and could literally spend hours browsing through books.  As could Logan…the hubby? Not so much, but he’s always a good sport about this sort of thing.

This bookstore came complete with a squeaky wood floor, books piled high to the ceiling, tiny little signs marking the genre or subject of the books in the vicinity, and the smell of, well, the smell of an old bookstore. Very comforting. Plus, the wall behind the cash registers was painted with the chalkboard paint, and filled with creative writings/poems. Very fun!

In typical Karen fashion, I migrated toward the “Health and Wellness” section. After digging through stacks of books, I came across this book:

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It has been on my “list” of books to read for quite a while now. So I bought it.

Guess what I did on the car ride back home Sunday?

Yep. And I finished this with an hour to spare, giving me lots of time to reflect upon all that I read.

I couldn’t even begin to share all the information in the book (at least not all in one post), but I can share Pollan’s advice on how to eat for optimal health. You may have heard it before.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it should be. Unfortunately, despite all of the research and advances we are making, Americans are “fatter, sicker, and more poorly malnourished” than we were thirty years ago. Something is not right. Pollan points his finger at nutritionism. (Nutritionism being the belief that the key to understanding food is in the nutrients.)

According to Pollan, “while nutritionism has its roots in a scientific approach to food, it’s not a science.” It’s an ideology. And Pollan holds the food industry, journalism, and the government accountable.

“All three helped amplify the signal of nutritionism: journalism by uncritically reporting the latest dietary studies on its front pages; the food industry by marketing dubious foodlike products on the basis of tenuous health claims; and the government by taking it upon itself to issue official dietary advice based on sketchy science in the first place and corrupted political pressure in the second.”

Preaching to the choir, Mr. Pollan, preaching to the choir.

Anyway…

let’s get back to Pollan’s simple advice.

First…eat “food”. And by food, he means food that would be recognized by your grandparents (or great grandparents, depending on your age). Specifically, he recommends avoiding food products that contain ingredients that can’t be identified as food, ingredients that aren’t pronounceable, and any food product containing more than five ingredients.

You would think that would relatively easy to do. But, unfortunately, not so much. Let’s take a look at bread. Your grandparents ate bread, right? But they certainly would not recognize the following products as food given Pollan’s criteria.

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After reading this list, there may be many people who don’t like Sara Lee.

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Yum?

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Pepperidge Farm? Nope…not food.

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Bimbo Bakeries…with that name, who would have expected it to make the cut?

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Brownberry…at least it has a shorter list of ingredients.

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This shocked me! Bread made in the bakery at the grocery store…HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP?! (Caps AND an exclamation mark…dang.)

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My favorite bread!

And one of my favorite ways to eat my favorite bread!

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Avocado Mash on Toast

2 slices of your favorite bread (I LOVE One Degree brand)

1/2 ripe avocado

2 slices tomato

1/2 T. hemp seed

sea salt

Make toast. Please don’t make me give you directions on how to do this. Smash avocado on toast with fork. Layer on tomato. Sprinkle with hemp seed and salt. I’ve also been known to put a layer of kale/spinach on the toast before the avocado. Warning: this makes it very messy to eat…slides all over the place. So, if you want to try this, make sure you are eating alone, or with people who love you regardless of what you look like while eating food.

Go ahead…check to see if your bread qualifies as food.

 

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