Saturday, February 03, 2007

Eating Well

Great NYT article on the way we look at food, how we eat and the rise of nutritionism.

In the case of nutritionism, the widely shared but unexamined assumption is that the key to understanding food is indeed the nutrient. From this basic premise flow several others. Since nutrients, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, it falls to the scientists (and to the journalists through whom the scientists speak) to explain the hidden reality of foods to us. To enter a world in which you dine on unseen nutrients, you need lots of expert help.

Just like the 200 calories can look and taste different depending on their source, the same set of nutrients can be derived from a variety of sources to completely different levels of satisfaction. Eating well is no longer easy or straightforward though Micheal Pollan tries to summarize the plethora of opinion and subject matter expertise in the opening line of his essay "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

I have been an unwilling victim of nutritionism myself. In the interest of expedience, I will cook a "healthy" meal with scant attention to its "soulfulness" for the want of a better term to describe what it is missing. The effects are telling. While I manage to remain in good physical health and maintain a normal weight, my emotional wellness seems to suffer.

Then my parents come visiting and Mom takes over the kitchen, works her magic with the very same ingredients that went into my "healthy" meals. In a few months I look and feel like a different person. The effect wears out in a few months of me being back to my own devices. There is a lot to be said for being happy in anticipation of a meal and the feeling of well being that comes from eating it and defines the difference between surviving and living.


Ricercar said...

someone sent me this article recently
bit on the longer side, but nice

Heartcrossings said...

A tad too long. I wish someone would write up a nice little summary