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"you are what what you eat eats, too"

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Jan. 28th, 2008 | 01:18 pm
mood: pensivepensive

I find myself faced with the potential dilemma of trying to lose weight, trying to spend less money on food, and simultaneously falling hard for Michael Pollan's local/sustainable/organic ethos. I suspect if I try hard enough, and shop at enough different stores, and plan every meal a week in advance, I can reconcile the three separate horns of said dilemma, but I'm not sure I have the energy for that task.

Item 1: lose weight. I made a pact with a friend, which I am advertising publicly here, that we would both lose 15 lbs by May 1, 2008. for each pound not lost, $10 will be donated to the Republican Party (since we're both good little Bay Area-ns for whom social conservatism is the highest anathema). This is not all the weight I need to lose, but it would be a start, and since my carrot approaches have not worked, I am trying the stick. Envisioning Mike Huckabee's face has helped steer me past many a toasted bagel heaped high with cream cheese and bacon this past week (a nice trick since I drive past my favorite Irish coffee shop every morning on the way to work).

Item 2: spending less money on food. I'm making a good start by just bringing my own breakfast and lunch to work instead of buying the aforesaid bagel. This has mostly translated into oatmeal packets in the morning with lunch consisting of canned or boxed soup with a salad, crackers and cheese. Higher sodium than I'd like but better than the "gourmet" sandwiches and salads with a side of chips I'd been noshing on for the past year+ at this job, and much, much cheaper. We've been eating less meat and avoiding out-of-season produce, too, which helps.

Item 3: eating real food. I read Fast Food Nation when it came out, and was thoroughly grossed out, and my eating habits did change. This was in conjunction with my first farmer's market phase, during which my ex and I ate lavish local/organic meals -- Ferry Building roasted pepper and tomato soup drizzled with Bariani olive oil and organic basil, followed by Phoenix Pastafico lemon fettucine glistening with organic butter and imported Parmesan as a side for seared Wagyu filets from Bryan's, and a big bottle of a local red wine to finish it off. Breakfast the next morning might be banana bread french toast with more organic butter Aidells sausage du jour and a couple of free-range local eggs. We ate very well and very large, but hey it was all organic, right? Of course, I packed on the pounds.

After that phase, things were in flux for some time, and I went back to Trader Joe's frozen meals, buying lunch, and Zone bars as my primary sustenance. Lately I've been dabbling more in the farmer's market/Whole Foods area -- particularly after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan -- but mixing that up with non-organic canned soups, trail mixes, and plenty of cheap burritos. However, Pollan's latest book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto has pushed me more strongly in the organic/local/sustainable direction again. His advice is simple: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. By "food" he means real food, rather than food-like substances. Nothing you can't pronounce, nothing with more than 5 ingredients, nothing with hydrogenated anything, and nothing that loudly proclaims itself to be healthful (including anything that has to have its nutrients added back in because they were stripped out by processing). By "mostly plants" he suggests using meat as a seasoning instead of a main dish. And by "not too much" he means eating at a table, in a chair, not in front of the computer or tv, not in your car, not at your desk, and, obviously not too much. (I think the "eat food" and "mostly plants" is actually going to be easier for me than the "not too much" part. I love luxuriating with a book and a bowl of pasta, "Iron Chef" with my chef salad, a sandwich at my desk at work during a quick catch-up on my social sites instead of eating microwaved food in the break room)

What does combining these three ideals mean? For a start, mixing my own instant oatmeal (with maple sugar and dried fruit) instead of buying packets. Using up the Capay Farms produce delivery box I just ordered on a bi-weekly basis (eep). Having lettuce, veggies and an organic dressing ready at all times for a quick salad, to stave off the "I should just pick up a burrito" after work blahs. Experimenting with pasture-raised beef delivery and/or buying smaller quantities of pasture-raised meat instead of pounds of conventional meat. Stocking up on healthy canned soups or making my own instead of grabbing what's on sale. Taking the time to go to Whole Foods or Country Sun instead of Safeway.

Mostly, just taking the time.

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from: cat_tat
date: Jan. 29th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)
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I just bought a Mr. Bento this morning for portion controlled lunches. Whee! Pedometer is possibly in the cards for the future.

I think I just need to really up the plain veggies/fruit intake and really cut down on portion size for everything else. Or maybe cutting out everything with hydrogenated oils and HFC will do the trick.

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