Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Bountiful Bite: Nugget Free Zone

I spent the last year in rural Vermont, where a blueberry bush will fight with you for its green or even pink berries, but as soon as they turn blue, the berry will fall into your hand with the gentlest touch. You are given the berry when it's just perfect for you to enjoy and digest. This, small farmers know in their bones. Wait, pick, eat, can and freeze.

Yet most American kids think "blueberry" is a pop-tart flavor. The connection between "farm" and "table" is not taught at home or in the supermarket, and rarely in school.

Let's get this straight. I'm not a dietitian. I'm not even a so-called "certified nutritionist". I love food and I hate for people to impede their lives or health with serious weight issues. I can't tell you what the most scientifically nutritious diets are, or even the safest ways to lose weight. But I read the experts, and ask a lot of questions about what we eat, where it comes from, and what it does for us (or to us). You could call it my obsession.

I do know that our bodies were designed to be lean, mean, metabolizing machines. From right after a child's 2nd birthday until old age, you can feed a healthy person a wide variety of minimally or non-processed foods, from milk to pear nectar, from steak to edamame, and his or her body will break down the food, glean all the energy and useful nutrients from it, and eliminate whatever it can't use. It's a very ingenious system! (Aside from food allergies.) But, from what doctors have told me, this amazing metabolic system we carry around in our guts (and liver, etc.) can, like indoor plumbing, become sluggish, clogged up, or cease to function well if you repeatedly spill junk down the drain. And there's plenty of "junk" out there masquerading as food.

Why is America so food-dysfunctional? We need to have an ongoing dialog with agribusiness, food processors, doctors and dietitians, politicians and school "lunch ladies", with chicken - and egg! - farmers and the FDA. I want to be part of a conversation about the ways we eat, the foods we prepare, and most of all, when we go home to our kids or our single lives, our large house in the mountains or our apartment in the city, when we look in the mirror or stroll down the cereal aisle in the supermarket... what are we thinking, hoping,or doing differently today?

How can we find the time, energy, motivation, and resources to make our daily eating habits more healthy, more family-friendly or social, and more rewarding?
And who's butt do we have to kick to lower our nation's diabetes numbers?

So yea, I don't have a magic diet to share. Just come try this new bruschetta I made, clear your head, play in the "chikkin-nugget free" zone.
Eat, drink and be healthy.

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