Monday, February 22, 2010

In defense of the "American diet"

Recently, I checked out Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and gave it a thorough read. I honestly enjoyed his writing style and the amount of information he had available in his book. However, I must argue with him about this "American diet" and have a little rant of my own about food in general.

Let me start by saying that I am not speaking scientifically. I am not fighting for low-fat, low-cholesterol, sugar-free or anything like that. However, I have to say that the "American diet" is not quite as small as he might imagine. I understand that there are people out in the world that live on nothing but fast food, but no matter which way you slice it, fast food is not the "American diet." In fact, I have a hard time accepting the idea of the "American diet." While in some places you might get nothing but diner food (burgers, fries, shakes and such), but in my America, my diet is highly varied and filled with a mixture of cuisines—Italian, German, Mediterranean, Spanish and Indian to name a few. The United States is "the melting pot" and that does not refer only to the diverse cultures here, but to the foods as well. I don't actually eat out that much, but when I do, it is not at the local fast food place (especially not the neighborhood McDonald's—haven't been there in almost six years). I prefer to cook at home using good, old-fashioned cookbooks and recipes from the internet.

While Mr. Pollan feels this inescapable need to defend food, I can agree with him on one point—eating food. People are quick to consume some odd concoction of materials created in a lab, but I am all about eating real food. I enjoy eating and I agree with him in saying that the joy in eating has been lost over the years. Since people no longer eat together like they did the in olden days, it has almost become a chore. So instead of defending food, I am defending the American diet—not necessarily the foods that count as American as much as actually eating something that tastes good. Yes, you should have a healthy balance of foods, however "healthy" doesn't have to be tasteless and bland. Still, you don't have to eat burgers and hot dogs to have true American food. The United States has plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and grains to please many a palate. I think that there are plenty of great foods available to cook and purchase that aren't filled with corn and soy that people have yet to discover—and yet to eat.

You can purchase Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto in stores and online. Also consider checking out his other works as well. Visit his site for more information.

Image via Mother Earth News

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