Growing up, some vegetables were a strict no-no almost always and some were forbidden on upvas(fasting) and other auspicious days, as my parents practiced a modified (modern?) form of saatvic diet. Of course, when there were strict rules about vegetables, the words eggs and meat were not even uttered. So, it is not very surprising that “we are what we eat” is ingrained in my psyche, though I didn’t give it too much thought until recently.
As cooking and food slowly piqued my interest, I wanted to know more about what I (and we as a family) are eating. That led me into looking for Farmers’ markets and local produce stores in my neighborhood where I could get vegetables and fruits instead of going to super-market chains. I started to shun even the organic super-markets as I got to know about food miles. That’s when I realized sometimes it is fine to eat the non-organic locally available in-season fruit, instead of an organic one transported all the way from Brazil or Australia. As with many other things in life, it is all about making the right choice.
Then, I got to read Michael Pollan and his many books but the one that I truly love is “Food Rules“. As the tagline says, it is truly an eater’s manual and every eater should read this book. It is one of those no-nonsense books that is not based on any new fancy studies which will be discredited 10 or 20 years on, but on centuries-old traditions from across the world. To make it easier for the reader, Michael lays out a set of rules that are easy to follow like:
a) Shop at the edges of the supermarket as fresh foods like vegetables, diary, meat are laid out here and not in the center aisles which are filled with processed junk
b) Avoid ingredients that you don’t understand or recognize – some are preservatives, some are stabilizers and you don’t know the long-term effect of these ingredients, so stay safe and avoid them. Better yet, if you don’t use them in your kitchen, why bother buying food with these ingredients?
c) Avoid any food your grand-mom (or great grand-mom) won’t recognize – as these are probably not from nature but from a food processing plant and better to avoid.
You get the drift. There are more rules in the list, which are also fairly easy to follow.
Reading all this made me realize, unless we grow our own food or live closer to where our food is grown, we will never really know what we eat and that is when I came across this talk by Joel Salatin of PolyFace Farms:
He has a very interesting story and an important message to say and he conveys that beautifully. I urge all you readers to listen to his talk and think about whether we are leaving the world as a better place than the one we inherited? For the last few generations, we probably did not but I don’t think we can continue like this for long…