J500 Media and the Environment

What IS For Dinner? by julianat
March 4, 2008, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , , ,

Eat Food. Not To Much. Mostly Plants.

The wisdom of Micheal Pollan’s new book “In The Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” (a title that I think is intriguing because it pertains to everyone…)
I opted for this book instead of buying a trashy magazine and overpriced mystery food while I was waiting at the airport this weekend.
What I find interesting is that he deconstructs the way people think about food, particularly in America, because as he says, what is in the western diet is barely food anymore, but instead is over processed and is of “food-like substances”. Humans can eat just about anything…
Pollan suggests that the reason America deals with such high rates of heart diseases, diabetes and cancer as a result of our diet, no matter how hip it is with science. Also, when this western diet was introduced to other cultures , almost immediately rates of these chronic diseases rose.
This made me think about my own “fatness” lifeline. When I lived with my parents, I was subjected to a strictly Vietnamese diet, which included mainly meat, rice as a staple to every meal, not much fresh vegetables and no dairy. Once I moved out of my parents house, I wanted change, and opted for Vegetarian Western Diet, with the thought that I would become more healthy, light, and more environmentally and ethically conscious. As a beginner’s mistake, I tried to eat vegetarian “food-like substances” that resembled meat “food-like substances”. So as I was chowing down on my Morningstar products, and instant Mac and Cheese, I started gaining weight in a bad way, something that I don’t think was just a part of the “freshmen 15”.
In my own diet trends, I can directly relate to Micheal Pollan’s argument of the Western diet being related to health problems. Not only was I healthier eating home-cooked (meat filled) Vietnamese food, but I was making uninformed decisions as a Vegetarian on a Western diet, buying into convenient “food-like substances”. This way of eating I feel is a survival tactic, and I see a lot of people doing it, eating whatever they can with the fear of starvation.
I know a lot more about food now, and its implications to my body and the environment, so much now, that I am stagnant in my decisions on what to consume.
Every Monday, I participate in a Sangha (community, food, meditation) amongst my friends and I, we meditate for thirty minutes, and share with everyone an organic vegan meal each of us have created. This is my favorite night of the week. It puts pleasure and community back into food. We all have a moment of peace together, and have the chance to experiment with new recipes and foods. It’s also great that everyone is a superb and unique little chef! We had a raw apple pie, raw vegan lasagna, vegan Korma, and a veggie Tom Yum soup. Heaven? I think so! (If anyone wants to come sometime, let me know! It’s open to all meditation, and welcome to anyone who wants to try!)
Not everyday I get to indulge in such delicious fresh whole foods, and still have not completely eliminated processed foods from my diet. Even the other day, my food starved stomach, snagged pieces of my roommates pizza, and being the garbage disposal I am, I finished off my other roommates fake-chicken ceaser salad.
Every time I eat a little bit of meat, the thought runs through my head, ” this is an animal, that was processed without love and treated like an object for production”.
NOW, with help of Micheal Pollan’s books, and other resources, every time I eat ANYTHING, I think, what’s the story here? What exactly is this “food-like substance”? When can we be free?!
Photo: Adam Kuban, Flickr

3 Comments so far
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It is so beautiful to think of you in that sangha. And I was all over the meditation but the idea of making a vegan meal scared me. You remind us that nourishment is about so much more than what we put in our mouths. It’s the whole experience of eating that (has the potential to) feeds us.

Comment by j500

The community has a lot to do with the way people eat and how people perceive other eating habits (especially vegetarians and vegans, since we are the minority). Have you ever been to a vegetarian meet-up around Lawrence? I’ve looked at a few event listings online, but haven’t actually gone to any.

Comment by Lauren Keith

Oh Simran! The Sangha is in no way meant to scare anyone ! It’s a pretty welcoming group, and there just happens to be three vegans that participate, so that is why we cook vegan. I am not vegan, but I love cooking for Sangha, because it gives me a challenge, and I get to experiment with new recipes.

Lauren- The only vegetarian meet-up I’ve been to is Veggie lunch at the ECM, and THAT is GREAT. There are a lot of really interesting people there that are really nice, and the food is usually pretty good (and usually vegan!). Other than that, I haven’t been to any, but that isn’t stopping us to start our own !


Comment by julianat

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