Thursday, March 18, 2010

What's for dinner?

I find it really interesting that America really has none of its own traditions when it comes to what we should be eating. Apart from the typical cheeseburger and home-fries, American food has never really found its niche for the perfect meal. The Italians found their love in pastas and breads, while the Greeks found it in greens and cheeses. And a good 'ol Mexican meal brings on its choices of what to put in your burrito or taco, along with the French widely known for their butters, creams and pastries. And don't forget the array of asian meals that always include a rice or noodle at every meal. I guess what it means to be American is to throughly enjoy embracing all cultures and traditions because one thing we do, and we do it well, is eating. I love how Michael Pollan puts it, "Yet I wonder if it doesn't make more sense to speak in terms of an American paradox - that is, a notably unhealthy people obsessed by the idea of eating healthy."

I recently had someone email me a question about being vegetarian. As some of you know, I went from being a person who ate everything put in front of them to pesco-tarian (no meat, but eats fish) to vegetarian to carnivore and then to vegan. And I'm not even going to mention where I am currently at, and for very good reasoning. With all those changes and decisions came logical reasoning, but simply kept changing with the more education I got on food. Also what a lot of people don't know or understand is, sometimes, I would only choose to eat like that for a season. So much contributes to what I personally will decide what to put out for dinner. Do I need to cleanse? Do I have enough money for groceries (because local organic meat is expensive)? Am I low this weak on omega-3's? How's my protein? Iron? Is this meal gonna provide the energy I need to exercise? And what I choose to eat while I'm nursing my baby may be completely different than when I'm not. Do you see where I'm getting at? Sometimes there really is no "right" answer when it comes to what we should choose to eat for dinner. But what you do choose should fit your lifestyle. It should compliment how you live. If your active vs. being someone who stays in the house all day, those two people's meals should be completely different from one another. You have to find what works for you and your family.

I love Michael Pollan because he is able to describe it again in this way - "Our culture codifies the rules of wise eating in an elaborate structure of taboos, rituals, recipes, manners and culinary traditions that keep us from having to reenact the omnivore's dilemma at every meal."

"And so we find ourselves where we do, confronting in the supermarket or at the dinner table the dilemmas of omnivorousness, some of them ancient and others never before imagined. The organic apple or the conventional? And if the organic, the local one or the imported? The wild fish or the farmed? The transfats or the butter or the 'not butter'? Shall I be a carnivore or a vegetarian? And if a vegetarian, a lacto-vegetarian or a vegan? Like the hunter-gatherer picking a novel mushroom off the forest floor and consulting his sense memory to determine its edibility, we pick up the package in the supermarket and, no longer so confident of our senses, scrutinize the label, scratching our heads over the meaning of phrases like 'heart-healthy,' 'no transfats,' 'cage-free,' or 'range-fed'. What is 'natural grill flavor' or TBHQ or xanthan gum? What is all this stuff, anyway, and where in the world did it come from?"

I think what is most important about choosing what to put on your dinner menu is that you've thought about it:) You wouldn't pick up any mushroom from outside and just assume you can eat it. Some are very nutritious, while others are very poisonous! Well shouldn't assume everything put on the shelves of our grocery stores is nutritious as well. Look at your life. What's a typical day? Are you active? Are you nursing? Do you have children? Listen to your body and find out what it needs. Putting on weight? Then make some adjustments. Getting dizzy spells? Then check your sugar. Are you getting enough protein so your sugar can burn slower? Are you nursing? Then you need to keep that iron high. Find out what is in your food and apply it to how you live. There is no magic answer to what EVERYONE should be eating but there is an answer to how YOU should be eating. So, what are going to eat for dinner tonight?

Resources: The Omnivore's Dilemma By Michael Pollan (pg. 3, 4, 5)

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