The American Army has yet to declare war on the species of Corn, despite Michael Pollan’s warnings that it is plotting to take over the world. But despite failing to convince the military to attack a vegetable, there is little doubt that Pollan has had a remarkable influence on the way people think about food.
In Pollan’s newest book, In Defense of Food, he suggests, among other things, reclaiming time-tested traditional menus of the past. Much of modern man’s eating disorder, says Pollan, stems from ditching mom for food science, cultural wisdom for the back of a cereal box, in order to determine the day’s menu.
Although Pollan, despite his Jewish roots does not mention it, this approach is a classically Jewish one: The Hebrew word for progress is Hitkadmut. Oddly enough, the root of the word Hitkadmut is Kedem, which means, “Before.” Moving forward well, our language is telling us, is contingent upon consulting our past. As we charge speedily ahead, we need, every once in a while, to backtrack and pick up the pieces we’ve left behind.
The following are Pollan’s rules for better eating, as written in In Defense of Food, based on the well-known Pollan mantra, “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” (Click Here to buy the book from Amazon.com) I’ve stuck these rules onto our fridge at home (Right next to the magnet with the number of the pizza delivery guy). Feel free to do the same. Beteavon! (Hebrew for Bon Apatit).
1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
2. Avoid food products containing ingredients that are, A) unfamiliar, B) unpronounceable, C) more than five in number, or that include D) High Fructose Corn Syrup.
3. Avoid food products that make health claims.
4. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
5. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.
6. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
7. You are what you eat eats, too.
8. If you have space, buy a freezer.
9. Eat like an omnivore.
10. Eat well-grown food from healthy soils.
11. Eat wild foods when you can.
12. Be the kind of person who takes supplements. (Although don’t necessarily take supplements).
13. Eat more like the French. Or the Italians. Or the Japanese. Or the Indians. Or the Greeks.
14. Regard non-traditional foods with skepticism.
15. Don’t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet.
16. Have a glass of wine with dinner.
17. Pay more, eat less.
18. Eat Meals.
19. Do all your eating a a table. No, a desk is not a table.
20. Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
21. Try not to eat alone.
22. Consult your gut.
23. Eat slowly.
24. Cook and, if you can, plant a garden.