Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Food Rules: Who Makes 'Em?

If you share even a marginal interest in “food issues” – whether it manifests in your weekly runs to the farmers’ market downtown or your letter writing campaign to the USDA in support of Farm-to-School lunch programs– then you’ve heard of Michael Pollan. Actually, even if you haven’t done any of those things, you’ve still probably heard of Michael Pollan. It’s hard to avoid those best-selling authors staring out at you from the front windows of the local bookstore, shaming you for already forsaking your new year's resolution of reading more, watching American Idol less.

Pollan’s latest missive, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, is a 112-page attempt to distill chapters and chapters of research, guidance, advice and experience into an easy to read (and even easier to follow) instruction book of sorts – something less hefty than The Omnivore’s Dilemma, but meatier (excuse the pun) than the overly-simplified: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

I haven’t read the book yet (though it’s on my list right after I finish Let the Great World Spin), but excerpts from the book have been making their way around the water cooler of the internet, so I know what I’m in for, and I’m pretty excited to dig in.

The “rules” are based mostly on common sense – Pollan says “while most of the rules are backed by science, they are not framed in the vocabulary of science but rather culture” – and while it might seem silly to waste your time and money on common sense, I find it does actually help to see that kind of thing in black and white, on paper. It just helps reinforce the message.

Here are some of the rules:
#11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television.
#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
#36 Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself (not good advice for those of us who were just gifted an ice cream maker).
#58 Do all your eating at a table.
See? They make sense once they’re written out.

But Pollan’s not the only one who can make rules for eating. Michelle Obama has some, I have some, and I’m sure you do, too. So what are they? Chime in right down there in the comments section and tell us what’s in your book!

image credit: tobybarnes/Creative Commons


  1. Give thanks before eating.Eat with attitude of gratitude.Dont buy it if you can make it.will save much packaging trash from garbage and our oceans.If you have to buy it, buy American.If you can't make it, find someone in your neighborhood who can/is and support them; try and learn so that it may be passed on."Waste not, want not" If you have too much, can,cook,freeze,donate,feed animals.Eat what you can from your back yard: garlic mustard,sorrel, tulip petals, etc. with respect to not decimate the species(Except garlic mustard: eradicate this invasive species.make pesto out of it:yummy! Root is incredible horseradish like replacement)Stop eating when you are no longer hungry.Just say NO! to fast food and fast sodas.Always keep an eye on the compost pile.treasure abounds there.Dont cut the tops to roots in gardens, let die back naturally.makes digging echinacea or jerusalem artichoke in the middle of winter much easier to find when its dark and you are sick or sure to carry food and water when getting into the car;prevent temptation to "convenience".Always remember to remove apple cores and tea cups from the car to prevent ants.If i have to have a pint of Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk, i eat a roast beef or chicken serving first, thus slowing down the sugar hangover. (protein, glycogen, sugar, insulin balances)Sharing food always makes it taste better."If i didnt shoot it, (or know who did,) i wont eat it." (thanks Mike, id forgotten that one)to be sure that all food groups are covered:always keep yogurt, butter, cream, and milk in the fridge. talk and coo to your birds while gathering eggs, and remember to scratch their ears. they will live longer and make more eggs.Never kill the first rooster.Always kick out the mean roosters;they make friends with themselves really quick, and are great parameter criers when a possum lurks.Never kill a black snake. But do not let them get comfy in the coop, or you will lose eggs and babies.leave the butter out,covered.if you forget, use like a crayon to color your bread.Never eat bread that you might want to use as a pillow. No crust/grain=not bread.Dont drink coffee, eat chocolate and peanuts all in the same day.Make the kids lunches. There is always something to throw in the bag.What you don't know, CAN hurt you. Avoid the word "Spice" as an additive.could be MSG. (had an asthma attack and turned blue...1998)Sing to your food and it will sing back.Always go to the kitchen first for medicine.Eat something rich in calcium/magnesium before taking ibuprofen for cramps. May not have to take it at all. (Put tylenol where it belongs=in the trash.)Eat what you want, but in moderation.Dont use cookbooks that suggest "Cambell's condensed" anything.MSG)Save seeds that leftover from prep. Good for birds or garden.leftover produce from prep to the birds.The best way to cook is to have what you like and then open the cabinet/fridge to get inspired.Always have food on hand for busy weeks. Cook on the weekend, use the crock pot.Make your own ice cream. Nothing says "i love you" more than Rose Geranium Gelato. (Great with fresh peach cobbler, too)When needing a pick-me-up, store favorite chocolate with Rose Geranium.Drink water first if i have a headache. Then eat.Keep fruit handy as display. Quick snack and looks nice.Always candy citrus peels or make marmalade.If you have to walk into a grocery store, carry a specific list and dont shop when hungry.Never eat fish unless you caught it or get it from someone you know.NEVER eat shrimp from China, grown on human waste.Dont eat canned food that has bubbles and a popped lid, even if you are desperate.Food is sacred. Pay a fair price.Never eat 1 chocolate when 2 will do.Always use real fire to cook food.Eat local and in season.Cyclically matched to your body, saves gas, increases nutritional value as well as spiritual value.excerpts from writings:
    "Food is Art Everyday" especially if u grow ur own-Leslie Jenkins

  2. Leslie, these are so awesome. Thank you for sharing!!

  3. thx, i feel different now, seeing how long it turned out! (promise not to post while waking up again) ;)p

  4. Use a small plate.

    BTW, I bought a few copies of Pollan's latest for some of my employees who are, to put it mildly, weight challenged. They liked it very much. We are working together towards a smaller mass.