Food, Part 2: Books for the Battle

So we’ve established that I have lifelong issues with food. Planning ahead, making good choices, dealing with the responsibility of feeding my family, and eating for some not-so-good reasons. We also established that the time and place to deal with it now. So what’s next? First, I’ll tell you what doesn’t work for me.

  1. Guilt. If guilt were going to motivate me to change, I would’ve done it a LONG time ago.
  2. My own appearance. I’m not blind. I can see the pictures. I can look in a mirror. I know what I look like and I know that it’s nowhere close to what I could be.
  3. My own health. Sad, isn’t it? When my blood pressure started creeping up, it was a good short-term motivation but that didn’t stick around.
  4. Eating plans. Trust me. I’ve done them all. Points, Atkins, South Beach, Weigh Down. . . they all work for a while, but I’ve followed the typical pattern of returning to old habits and then some.

In most areas of my life, other people are my motivation. Caleb’s diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes is what made me get serious about getting organized with supper and family meals, but I also want to work on the bigger picture. Face it: I’m an American and I eat too much and I eat too much of some not-so-good stuff.

Since other people are better motivators for me, I’m taking a global and spiritual approach to this. Here are some books I’ve just started reading that I hope will provide the spark to take the next step.

Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger is written for our times, when every day more than 34,000 children die of starvation and preventable diseases, and 1. 3 billion human beings live in relentless, unrelieved poverty worldwide. Why is there still so much poverty in the world? Conservatives blame sinful individual choices and laziness. Liberals condemn economic and social structures. Who is right? Who is wrong? Both, according to Ronald Sider in this newly revised, expanded and updated edition of Rich Christians In An Age Of Hunger. Sider explains that poverty is the result of complex causes, and then he presents practical, workable proposes for change, proposals that should be taken up by every man and every woman who seeks to deserve the title “Christian” and to apply and to follow the teaches of Jesus of Nazareth in the modern world. — Midwest Book Review

Food is the one thing that Americans hate to love and, as it turns out, love to hate. What we want to eat has been ousted by the notion of what we should eat, and it’s at this nexus of hunger and hang-up that Michael Pollan poses his most salient question: where is the food in our food? What follows in In Defense of Food is a series of wonderfully clear and thoughtful answers that help us omnivores navigate the nutritional minefield that’s come to typify our food culture. Many processed foods vie for a spot in our grocery baskets, claiming to lower cholesterol, weight, glucose levels, you name it. Yet Pollan shows that these convenient “healthy” alternatives to whole foods are appallingly inconvenient: our health has a nation has only deteriorated since we started exiling carbs, fats–even fruits–from our daily meals. His razor-sharp analysis of the American diet (as well as its architects and its detractors) offers an inspiring glimpse of what it would be like if we could (a la Humpty Dumpty) put our food back together again and reconsider what it means to eat well. In a season filled with rallying cries to lose weight and be healthy, Pollan’s call to action—”Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”–is a program I actually want to follow. –Anne Bartholomew

Most of us are at a great distance from our food. I don’t mean that we live “twelve miles from a lemon,” as English wit Sydney Smith said about a home in Yorkshire. I mean that our food bears little resemblance to its natural substance. Hamburger never mooed; spaghetti grows on the pasta tree; baby carrots come from a pink and blue nursery. Still, we worry about our meals — from calories to carbs, from heart-healthy to brain food. And we prefer our food to be “natural,” as long as natural doesn’t involve real.

In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan writes about how our food is grown — what it is, in fact, that we are eating. The book is really three in one: The first section discusses industrial farming; the second, organic food, both as big business and on a relatively small farm; and the third, what it is like to hunt and gather food for oneself. And each section culminates in a meal — a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald’s; roast chicken, vegetables and a salad from Whole Foods; and grilled chicken, corn and a chocolate soufflé (made with fresh eggs) from a sustainable farm; and, finally, mushrooms and pork, foraged from the wild.– The Washington Post

So . . . hopefully they will each provide pieces of the puzzle that I can use to rewire my brain and retrain my responses. Stay tuned for the next steps.


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