Thursday, October 8, 2009

Preparing My Meal

Planning meals for me is a regular, everyday, exercise. I usually eat three to four times a day and go through some of the same process' almost every time. Now that I am at school this process has been slightly transformed.

I no longer have to constantly make a meal from scratch. Sometimes I can just go to the cafeteria and pick out a meal that has already been, or will be, prepared for me. I will be discussing the steps that I went through the other night towards making some macaroni and cheese.

The first thing that I did was decide how hungry I was. After figuring that I was in need of a scrumptious meal, I went and looked at my small variety of food in my dorm. I found a box of "Valveeta Macaroni and Cheese" and decided that it would be my meal. I got out my electric hot pot and began to boil some water. While waiting for the water to boil I was anxious and began imagining the deliciousness of the upcoming food. Once the water was boiling I put in the noodles and let them boil. After that I strained them and mixed in the creamy cheese. Finally I could relax and enjoy the food. Each of these steps in the process of making my meal was important to the experience of eating. The experience is always full of anxiety and hunger, but leads to satisfaction after you eat. Who knew eating could be so epic?

After reading part 7 in Pollan’s book I agree with his claims. People have become accustomed to the “damaging innovations” of our society today. We all accept processed foods because nearly everyone eats them. After my meal I realized that I, myself, can be support to my agreement with Pollan. The website gives the exact nutritional value of the velveeta meal, and reflects its lack in nutrition. This macaroni and cheese if proof to my support of Pollans ideas. I, too, have become accustomed to the "damaging innovations" of food.

Real vs. Fake

The food that I have chosen to discuss is popcorn. In the past I would always make my own popcorn from the kernel. I would melt my own butter, and the popcorn was the “real stuff.” I recently have changed my “popcorn eating” habits. I have moved to eating popcorn out of the microwavable bags. The two types are different and both have their pros and cons.

As I changed from the real to fake popcorn, I noticed a few main differences. The fake popcorn smelled much better, it had an aroma that filled the whole house after cooking it. It tasted very good, and had much more flavoring. The real popcorn had almost no smell (unless burned) and it had much less taste. The textures were also slightly different, the real popcorn was much dryer and more crunchy.

The fake popcorn provides no more nutritional value than the real popcorn. It is actually much worse for you. Microwaveable popcorn contains the chemical diacetyl in its butter. This chemical creates fumes that can kill you if you breathe too much of it. Many times the effects (effects one’s eyes, respiratory system, skin) can be seen in popcorn factory workers. Online at “Medical News Today” an article discusses the effects of diacetyl and explains how a popcorn company stopped the use of the chemical for flavoring. It is clear that in real popcorn these chemicals are not found, so the real popcorn is much more beneficial to your health.

I ended up switching to the microwavable popcorn because it is much easier to make. There is minimal cleanup, and minimal effort to make the popcorn. As in many other foods, people switch from “real” to “fake” because of convenience. I made the switch during my junior year in high school, I was too lazy to make my own “real” popcorn.

I feel that I will return to eating the real version of popcorn. Due to my living conditions, and lack of appliances, I won’t be making the return to the real food until the school year is over. After that I will be able to mix it up a bit and return to the “real popcorn” whenever I would like.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

“The American Diet, the American Paradox” (E.C.)

The event opened with the school chancellor speaking about Michael Pollan and providing a bit of backround information. She spoke of his accomplishments and explained how the University got him to come and speak. Eventually Michael got on stage and began his comical and engaging speech.

Pollan said “We all get fat on our low fat campaigns.” He is completely accurate, and makes a good point. In today’s society everyone is trying to eat healthier and eliminate all negatives from our bodies. Pollan states that in theory this would work for losing weight, but it doesn’t. When all of the negatives are taken out of ones diet so are many of the positives. He says to eat “real food”...well what is real food? According to Pollan it is anything that your great grandmother would recognize(un-processed foods).

In the speech Pollan points the blame for an unhealthy america towards marketing. He even went as far as to inform the audience to simply not buy food that you have seen advertised on television. Could the food we see on television really be this bad? Michael thinks so, he said that 94% of the food we see advertised on television is processed. I feel that he is right about the mainstream food advertisements being made up of almost all unhealthy and processed foods, but he takes his suggestions a bit far.

“Use common sense when eating” these are the words of Pollan; he is projecting to eat “real food.” He states in his book to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” It is just more evidence that eating should not be as challenging as we are making it.

Pollan brought up the point that some of the main reasons to eating have been forgotten. He explained that eating was commonly much more than feeding our hunger. Eating used to be a gathering time to socialize and a time to relax and enjoy the pleasurable tastes of a meal. Food was much more than just food, but that has changed in today’s age. People are always looking for something fast. A meal has fallen back on our priorities. We want food fast and we want it healthy. People no longer eat to enjoy food. I agree with Pollan that this change in the way we look at food has had a dramatic negative effect on our diets. If society is looking for a way to fix their nutritional habits we need to slowly drift back towards the old reasons to eat food.

The presentation was very interesting to hear directly from Michael Pollan. It was nice to get an authentic feeling about his thoughts on nutrition. He was a comical man who kept the audience’s attention. As he began he seemed a bit nervous but gained confidence as he moved along through the presentation. I found this interesting because seeing him nervous in front of roughly 7000 people let me see him as a “normal/average” person. Anyone who wouldn’t be nervous would not be considered average under my standards. In the end I enjoyed the presentation and found it very informational.