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Food Rules, Rule Number Two

February 19, 2010

photo by metin armağan

God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”

Genesis 1:29 (NRSV)

Pollan has a great sense of history, especially when it comes to our collective memories about food. That’s part of the reason this one is so important. We live in a world where food has entered such a processing-frenzy that yogurt, as he says, is now branded as Go-gurt and sold in plastic tubes. If your great-grandmother had seen it, she may well have tried to brush her teeth with it.

Now this rule only works as long as we still have great-grandmothers living who remember the eras before food was as much about convenience as taste. We may need to revise this one over time to great-great grandmother, and so on. But it’s sort of like the anecdotal definitions of art: you know real food when you see it. We need to focus on things that are obviously food. Before that you cannot even begin to think about what pesticides and chemicals are involved in producing it.

Start thinking about how you might engage with real food better, maybe by stopping at a farm stand or going to a farmer’s market when the weather allows. If something’s unfamiliar to you, just ask how it should be prepared. People who sell real food will be happy to tell you.

Great-Grandma has a lot more to tell you than just how she never had this or that. Ask her what she did have, and how she prepared it.

Have fun.


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