Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Irony of New Years Resolutions.

It's January, and just about every ad on tv and radio is about losing weight, getting healthy, and back in shape in the New Year.  Everyone is talking about their new years resolutions, and how they're going to turn their lives around this year and lose all that weight they've gained over the last 10 years.

I had to laugh. I'm watching Adam Richman on Man Vs. Food, a show about gorging oneself on food in food challenges, and I thought it odd that almost every ad supporting this episode was an ad on weight loss of some type.  Really?  Is that appropriate?  It's like the binge and purge of TV.  Then I got to thinking about the title of the show I was watching (Man Vs. Food) and the picture of the wrestler guy punching a drumstick.  How weird we American's are when it comes to our relationship with food.  It's portrayed as our enemy.  Something to beat down and force as much in as we can, or something to be avoided at all costs, because it will make you fat, give you diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. I find this a sad.  From what I see of the part of America I'm living in, this attitude that food is something to fight a war against isn't doing one iota to help the health of the American People. (I do enjoy this show by the way - I have nothing against Adam Richman or the Travel Channel)

When we look at the French, Italians, Spanish, and Portuguese.  The Mexicans, South Americans, Greeks, Eastern Europeans, Chinese and Japanese among many others.  All of them seem to have a relationship with food that is positive.  It's an important part of their family and religous traditions. It's lovingly cooked, not grabbed, ripped open and stuck in a microwave.  Time is spent on it, the recipes are often handed down over generations and are precious.  The tables are nicely set and families sit down together and eat, not in front of a tv, but in front of each other, and they savor their food.  They eat slowly and thoughtfully.  Converse with each other, connect with each other over their food.  They don't make a point of filling a huge plate to brimming.  They serve and eat what satisfies them.  (Although, with the influence of our Western world, this is rapidly changing)

Where am I going with this exactly?  I'm not completely sure.  I'm just so perplexed by our fear and hatred of food, and at the same time our overwhelming urge to have it.  Like it's something forbidden that has to be done in private and quickly.  No time to enjoy, just get it down before anyone sees you.  I have a childhood friend who is on such a quest to be healthy he's making cheese cakes with no carbs or sugar.  When I read this, all I coul do was ask, "why?".  Why bother making the dessert at all if you can't make it real.  You can make a real dessert, with real fat (not margerine - but butter.  Butter is not the enemy), real sugar and a real crust.  You don't have to sit down and eat the entire thing as fast as you can. Take a small slice.  Take one bite at a time and savor every ounce of the flavor.  Enjoy the texture on your tongue, and let it slowly move down to your stomach and let it leave you pleasantly satisfied. Not just your hunger and the desire for something sweet and fatty, but let it satisfy your soul. Why, I wonder, is it such a sin to eat like this in America?  Why is it we prefer to eat food like products, that aren't even real food (yes this thought is inspired by Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food)

I found that Mr. Polan made a a fascinating point in his book.  How food science has moved us farther and farther away from eating real food, out of fear of what it can do to us, and more and more into eating food products created by science.  This direction we've taken has not made our country healthier, but has done quite the opposite.  Since I was a teenager my instincts told me it was wrong to eat margerine (even though that's all my parents ate) or fake sugars such as sacchrine.  My instincts told me my body wasn't built to eat man made food products any more then it was meant to eat plastic.  I'm glad I've made a concerted effort to do so.  I think I'm much healthier for it. 

So what can I do to help make my country healtheir I wonder?  I think the first step is to start with myself.  No, I will not do a "cleansing diet" or take Alli.  I will not cut out those evil carbs, nor will I cut out fat.  I will do my best to follow Michael Pollan's advice, because it intuitively makes sense to me.  I will "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."  I will take it a step further, by attempting to grow as many of my own plants as I can manage in the climate I live in.  I will try to fill in what I can't grow by buying the rest at my local Farmers Market.  We've already been rasing some of our own meat, and my husband fishes for much of our fish.  He started hunting this year, so I hope to have more game in our freezer.  I will can and freeze more of what we have grown, slaughtered, and hunted for the winter months.  I will eat real butter and real sugar, and when I can afford it, I will buy as much of it locally made as I can.  When I make a decandant dessert to enjoy, it will be just that, decandant.  I will sit down with my family and friends and we will enjoy it together over good conversation, and our souls will be satisfied.  Then I will go out into the fresh air and walk with my dog, play with my kids, and dig in my garden.  My spirit will be refreshed, and I will be a happier person to be around and I hope I will inspire others to take this path that Mother Nature intends for us to take, and not the one that marketers, medical suppliers, and pharmeceutical companies would prefer to see us take, because the natural path will cost them big bucks. 

I lift my fork full of delicious food to all and wish you a Happy and Bountiful New Year.


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Askew To You said...

I watch Man vs. Food. I enjoy the show, but I think it's because of the way he explores the city first and he doesn't shove the food in as fast as he can. He's charming and looks a bit like a plump Kevin Arnold (from the Wonder Years).

I'm working on a healthier diet this year, as well. Tonight I made a dish with Acorn Squash - something I've never eaten before. Pretty good. I saved some seeds for my little garden.