Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Review - Food Rules

I grew up on a farm, so naturally I grew up with lots of good food around me. My mom was a fantastic cook, and she usually used fresh ingredients, making really good, simple meals.

My grandfather, who lived about a half mile down the road from me, had a huge garden in which he grew everything from broccoli to brussels sprouts, radishes to rhubarb. The colors in Grandpa's garden were glorious, and it always made me think of Mr. McGregor's garden from "Peter Rabbit." I still remember wandering up and down the rows of vegetables when I was a little girl.

So I guess you could call it my heritage or instinct or maybe just good, common sense that I call upon when I make food choices today. I've never been interested in pre-packaged food (too expensive for one thing), and I've never liked the idea of diet pop (hey, I'm a Midwesterner!). I like to cook, and I like to cook good food with top-notch ingredients. That just feels right to me.

Don't get me wrong--I am no earth-hugging, granola-chewing (although I do like granola), Birkenstock-wearing food nut. That is not and never will be me. It just makes me laugh to think that anyone would think I'm a health-food type of person. I'm SO not.

I don't like the idea of chemicals in my foods, though, and I do like the idea of buying my food at a farmer's market. So I guess if I need to go buy myself a pair of Birkies, so be it.

So when I came across this little book a couple of weeks ago while perusing the aisles of Borders for a while, I just knew I had to have it. It seemed to confirm a lot of what I had always thought about food, and yet it challenged me further.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan is a quick, easy read. You can get through it in one sitting. (Are you sensing a trend here?) *wink, wink*

In the book, Pollan talks about what we should eat ("Eat food"), what kind of food we should eat ("Mostly plants"), and how we should eat ("Not too much"). Common sense, right? These topics make up the three sections of the book, and each section reveals several "rules" that go along with it.

Here are some of my favorites.

Rule #2: "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." He uses Go-gurt as an example of this.

Rule #9: "Avoid food products with the wordoid 'lite' or the terms 'low-fat' or 'nonfat' in their names." He says that when the food manufacturers remove the fat they add carbohydrates to make the food taste better. You're just exchanging one for the other and probably eating more because of the false claim of the food being "lite."

Rule #20: "It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car." *gulp*

Rule #23: "Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food." I like this one a lot because I think we probably eat too much meat. But I also like the Pollon doesn't say, "Become a vegetarian." Ain't happenin', folks. But if I can think of meat as a flavoring, rather than as THE main course, I might not eat quite as much.

And I think this one is probably my MOST favorite (I sound like a little kid). Rule #39: "Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself." Again, he's not saying you can't have fun every now and then. He's just saying that when you make cookies, brownies, or even french fries yourself at home you probably won't make them as often because they take so much time to make. Interesting point.

I think you get the idea. Food Rules gave me a lot to think about--stuff I'm still thinking about and will probably think about for a while. And the cool thing is that Kate read the book, too, and is thinking through the whole issue of "good" food versus "not-so-good" food, which is especially helpful since she'll be going to college soon and will be making her own choices about what to eat.

I really liked this book. You should get it.

The end.



  1. Another book on my list of things I want to borrow from you!

  2. I just happened to get this from the library and it's sitting on my coffee table waiting to be read.

  3. This sounds like a good book, and one I should definitely read. My eating habits haven't been the best lately - which often goes along with being sick, ironically enough. ;) Thanks for the review!