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Michael Pollan: Eat Anything You Want--Just Cook It Yourself

This cannot be stated often enough. Eat real food. I have gotten into so many long blowhard discussions about the prohibitive cost of organic foods (I disagree) and how people use that as an excuse to buy manufactured edible products instead.

I don't care if it's organic or not, just buy real food, cook real food and eat real food. It is that simple. It will change your life.

http://www.thersa.org/events/rsashort...

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  1. While I appreciate Michael Pollan's take on a lot of things, I fear this is a little oversimplified. Just eating real food that you cook yourself and even grow yourself doesn't guarantee health. Genetics still play a very large part in blood chemistry, body fat, etc. I cook all my own food. I eat at a restaurant maybe once a month. I cook healthy food at home, probably 75% of which is meatless. I have my own garden and raise my own chickens and buy what dairy and meat I do consume from local farmers. Yet I am still obese. Have always been obese. You wouldn't know it to look at me since I am tall, but my weight puts me in the obese category. Michael Pollan says that if you just eat clean healthy food you cook yourself then there is no deprivation needed. Maybe if you have Michael Pollan's metabolism. I don't. This isn't a magic bullet. A good idea, sure. And I'm lucky that my blood chemistry is all where it should be, BP is fine, blood sugar is low. But I'm still fat despite the fact that I do "all the right things".

    47 Replies
    1. re: meresyg

      I relate to this so much.

      In addition to metabolism, there also remains no diet where you can eat "as much as you want" where you never have to think about portion control/counting calories or some variation there of. I need to lose weight - buyt it's not a lack of knowledge for me. My mother is a dietician working specifically with obesity. I work really hard to cook most of my food, eat out minimally, and exercise 4-6 days a week. Not only do I avoid buying junk, but I also try to keep snacks at an extreme minimum. And this has been my lifestyle for years.

      I'm sure that part of my metabolism/genetics/biochemistry isn't helping me out. My BP is good, blood sugar good, cholesterol excellent. I don't have a thyroid problem. And I also don't weigh what I want. I know I'm prone to nibbling and that I don't get full in a way I'd like - but all of the food I keep around me is healthy.

      To lose weight, at some point I still need to do a mix of counting calories, limiting portion sizes, and/or doing considerable food elimination (i.e. no dairy). Period.

      Now compared to someone overweight who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a risk of heart disease - I'm doing amazing. But it's not a magic bullet for weight.

      1. re: cresyd

        Me too. Heck, I gained weight when I started eating real, homemade food! I'm not obese and don't suffer from any serious illnesses. I eat well and knowing how good that is for me is very satisfying.

        1. re: cresyd

          Actually, there is a diet where you can eat as much as you want where you never have to think about portion control. You eat protein and natural fats and low-carb vegetables and no-cal beverages. Nothing else. I did this for 16 months and lost 120 lbs. PS All my numbers improved: BP, lipids, A1c. For details, pick up a copy of "Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution".

          1. re: mwhitmore

            I did mention doing "considerable food elimination", which that diet would qualify as.

            1. re: cresyd

              All weight reduction requires "considerable food elimination." Some foods promote obesity more than others, and some promote health more than others with or without weight loss.

              Buyer's choice.

              1. re: mcf

                What I was trying to say - probably unclearly - is that on some level all weight loss requires portion control/calorie counting. It's just how it's done.

                Now this can be done strictly through portion control (aka serving size) or choosing to eliminate an extensive food category (aka carbohydrates). Some may prefer a more severe Atkins style of food group elimination, others prefer strict calorie counting but leaving all foods "in play". And others enjoy a mix of that (i.e. reducing overall food consumed and cutting out something like gluten, dairy, refined sugar, etc.).

                And yes. Buyer's choice.

                1. re: cresyd

                  If I remove 90% of dairy and bread from my diet I will lose weight very quickly without changing anything else or exercising but I won't feel good. So, two decades ago I changed the portions and in some cases the type of dairy. If I go off on a cheese binge I must workout more or my #'s change.

                  Cutting back on sugar was the easiest part and I saw a big change in the texture and condition of my skin; head to toe. That was a big reward.

                  1. re: cresyd

                    It does not always require calorie counting, since different macronutrients effect different hormonal changes. For some folks it will, especially for the last 10lbs, though. More than one study has demonstrated 2x the weight loss on 50% more calories for low carb vs. low fat, high carb dieters.

                    And no one eliminates "an extensive food category" in any diet I know of. I eat super low carb, but my plate is covered with healthy carbs.

                    1. re: mcf

                      I think we're going to agree to disagree on some of these points.

                      But I would say that cutting out (for non allergy reasons) gluten, dairy, meat, or any similar kind of elimination could qualify as an "extensive food category". Not to mention the Atkins diet of cutting out the vast majority of carbohydrates. Whether or not they're diets that have been studied in full in regards to weight loss, they all appear in various diet ideology.

                        1. re: cresyd

                          Even the strictest phase of Atkins includes more veggies than most folks eat daily. A link, if you're interested, to add to those I offered HillJ: http://nusi.org/the-science/review-of...

                        2. re: mcf

                          Obviously you have taken the time to research the glycemic index of vegetables...berries etc. and know how to properly follow a low carb diet. If a person knows what they are doing on a low carb diet they will eat very well. So many of us have been brainwashed to believe that processed foods like breads...cereals...sweets etc. are actual food groups. All of us can live without them in our diet.

                          1. re: MamasCooking

                            According the article I cited in
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9314...

                            bread used to be a major component in the American diet.

                            "From the 1860s to the 1960s, Americans across class, gender, and, to a certain extent, racial lines got more of their daily calories from bread than any other single food: 25 percent to 30 percent, on average, and higher during times of war and recession."

                            Earlier, in the middle ages, dependence on grains was even higher, whether eaten as bread (bought from the baker), cakes (e.g. oat cakes), porridge or ale. Except the wealthy could indulge in meat.

                            1. re: paulj

                              Your point is? Human beings can subsist and thrive without highly processed bread in their diets. It is a food preference for many to consume highly processed breads....cereals and sweets.

                            2. re: MamasCooking

                              I eat berries very rarely. I pretty much eschew fruits. I find glycemic index to be completely irrelevent and non predictive of my own blood glucose results, as do most folks testing bg post meal. Results are all over the map.

                              1. re: MamasCooking

                                What about whole grain-not just wheat either- breads and grains? Those have nutritional value, certainly.

                                1. re: Hoppy12345

                                  Per calorie, they are nutrient impoverished compared to vegetables. Also, if it's not a berry or kernel, but is ground or broken, it's no longer a "whole grain" which passes through your body mostly undigested, probably the reason for any benefits.

                    2. re: cresyd

                      I love what you just said. I have two coworkers that exercise a lot on campus. They climb the parking garage stairs and keep up with one another. One is thin and muscular, the other is on the heavy side of normal, but i'd absolutely love to be in the shape she's in. She works really hard with a buddy and so what if she's wider than the other one?
                      I have no idea what either of their diets are, but even if they ate nothing but lard sandwiches and cake they'd still be in better physical shape than most people. And I doubt that's wht they eat, BTW.

                    3. re: meresyg

                      I don't think that's what Pollan is advocating. Genetics and age play a huge role, of course. His point is to eat simple, real foods, stay away from processed foods and be moderate. It's not a 100% guarantee you will turn into George Clooney, but chances are you will be in better overall health and not develop morbidity diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

                      1. re: sandiasingh

                        The short that you linked to, at the end of it, he says "eat whatever you want, just cook it yourself." Seems to me that is part of what he is advocating. And the text underneath the short also says "no need for fad diets or deprivation." Again, he is oversimplifying this. I do agree with his basic premise. It is healthful to eat whole foods that you make yourself. But he should back off of the idea that excess weight, obesity, and associated health issues will go away if we just cook at home.

                        1. re: meresyg

                          His point being if you have to make your own french fries or cupcakes, you won't eat as much of those. Totally agree.

                          I don't hear anywhere in this short where he guarantees weight loss. He talks about health, not weight loss. Of course they are related, but don't always go in lock-step.

                          1. re: sandiasingh

                            ha! if you have to CLEAN UP after french fries, you wont' make as many of them!

                            1. re: sandiasingh

                              I find that for some people even the good stuff is avoided because of the work involved. When I buy a whole fish it takes time to filet it. Not a difficult task but some folks will avoid the good stuff because of the prep time. My BIL won't buy a whole pineapple because it's too much work to cut it down, WHAT?! My baking pals don't break open their own nuts because of the mess.

                              So, even when you make the effort to buy smart, make foods yourself-you have to embrace the time and effort.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Buying whole items, like fish, pineapple or nuts, as opposed to cut up forms, has nothing to do with eating healthier. It's just a trade off between cost and effort. It's addition of things like sugar (in canned pineapple) or salt (salted nuts) that make a difference in the healthfulness of prepared foods.

                                1. re: paulj

                                  You missed my point. If Mr Pollan is suggesting that we eat fresh, whole food then the foods you are using as comparison would not be on his list. A fresh pineapple vs cubed pineapple in syrup? So on this I believe we disagree.

                                  Cutting a fresh whole pineapple (healthy) takes some effort and time vs. opening a can (not as healthy).

                                  My point paulj, was that even making healthier choices (fresh vs canned) require making an effort. Pollan used the homemade french fry example (takes effort, you'll eat less of it). I used a pineapple example (takes time but it's healthier).

                              2. re: sandiasingh

                                He's wrong about health and weight loss, though.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  mcf, I'm curious because of your consistent attention to health, medical views and weight loss on so many threads; who you would point to for advice and science in this particular discussion.

                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                      That's not what I was asking. I was focused on writers and folks researching these large and complex topics for the public.

                                      I would hope your own doctor would be a part of self-awareness but even my doctor reads Michael Pollan and others.

                                      So, for someone like mcf that is well read, I'd be interested to learn what researchers and writers they follow.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        I want to clarify; I don't follow anyone without doing my own independent research of the peer reviewed literature. I arrived at my diet via PubMed, then read authors and vetted their worth through the filter of my own obsessive combing of all I could find.

                                      2. re: jpc8015

                                        Right, the person with no nutrition education.

                                      3. re: HillJ

                                        MIchael Eades, M.D., Gary Taubes, and nutrition researchers Mary Gannon, Frank Nuttal. Eades' Protein Power blog is great for lay explanation and detailed analysis of nutrtition/diet research and other topics.

                                        Protein Power was the only diet book I ever read that was accurate compared with the peer reviewed science and offered its bibliography.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          Thanks mcf, I appreciate the reply and the referenced information.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Here's another link for you to follow, if you choose: http://nusi.org/

                                    2. re: sandiasingh

                                      Because all fat people make and eat French fries and cupcakes.

                                      1. re: meresyg

                                        Is that the take away message you're getting? See, I'm only hearing that Pollan recommends we all be more self aware and healthful in our choices in order to maintain a healthful life.

                                        I don't think he's singling out as much as doing the math.
                                        If you live on a diet of high fat food your health can change. Not rocket science is it?

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          If you don't get enough fat you die. And there are no health risks of having a lot of it that have not been debunked, and were never legitimate to begin with.

                                          http://www.gatsby.ucl.ac.uk/~pel/fat/...

                                          http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/ear...

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            If I ate a diet rich in fat derived from cupcakes, greasy food and the like, the results from my medical check ups would change. I'm not sure that I need to remove good fats from my diet (which I don't) but I would not entertain the idea that bad fats (my own list let's call it) would benefit me.

                                            If YMV's I applaud you.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              The only bad fats don't come from real, wholesome foods. They don't come from properly raised critters.

                                            2. re: mcf

                                              Please, please please read what you LINK!
                                              "people without high risk of heart attack".
                                              That's IMPORTANT.
                                              I don't know whether Metabolic Syndrome counts as high risk, or what criteria they're using...

                                              But a lot of things can be bad for a segment of the population.

                                              Giving advice without qualifiers is poor form.

                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                The best diet for those with metabolic syndrome which is what leads to CVD is reduced carb. It also controls diabetes without meds in most. I DO read what I post, and enough other literature constantly to know what I'm saying.

                                                Numerous studies have found no CVD benefit from low fat diets, only elevated triglycerides, and low HDL caused by such diets, and the most predictive of CVD.

                                            3. re: HillJ

                                              Did you watch the short? Calories don't matter as much long as it is cooked by a human being. And, you won't be making French fries and cupcakes often if you do your own cooking, so you won't be fat. Both of those statements are in the short.

                                              Yes......high fat diets can change your health for the worse. No, not rocket science. BUT, you can still be overweight and eat super, super healthy. You can not eat baked goods, candy, soda, fast food, restaurant food and make all your food at home, and still be overweight. He is oversimplifying because he eats that way and he isn't fat and is extrapolating that to everyone else.

                                              1. re: meresyg

                                                I did watch the short video. I haven't addressed calories in any of my remarks actually. I don't count calories. I only get weighed at the doctors office. I eat smart, I make much of what I eat from scratch, I also indulge and workout regularly.

                                                As I have said, Mr Pollan is one (and not new) point of view. Plenty of researchers are guilty of over and under stating plenty of information. Which is why it's not rocket science (imvho) unless you want it to be.

                                                I don't disagree that super thin people can be riddled with health problems or that being overweight automatically means you're at death's door. What I believe is that we take information for what it's worth and make the best decisions we can to benefit by optimal health.

                                    3. re: meresyg

                                      Very well said. I grew up eating like that in the late 50's and 60's and I still eat a very healthy diet. But guess what a few years ago when I was in my early 50's and weighed 145 lbs. ( I am 5'9" female) I developed hypertension that requires a handful of medications to manage. Diet had nothing to do it.

                                      1. re: meresyg

                                        Honestly, what Pollan and his Bittman clone understand about metabolism and nutrition would not crowd the head of a pin.

                                        Food production, quality, yes. Diet, they are zeros.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Haha! No, I believe the words "real" and "food" were around before "Real Food."

                                        2. Organic foods ARE cost prohibitive for many people. I am on a pretty strict budget ($50/week for 1.5 people... my other half travels during the week), and do well on a higher protein diet with little processed foods. I don't like "low cost" protein foods like beans and eggs, although I wish I did. So, I eat meat. I have one store that's within reasonable distance from my house (4 miles), so I do the majority of my shopping at that one store. I can get non-organic boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for 1.99/lb. The organic variety is 5.99/lb on sale. Bone-in skin on chicken thighs are 99 cents/lb on sale. Organic is around $3.99/lb. I can get a broccoli crown for 99 cents a pound on sale. The organic variety is at least double that per pound, and my store also sells them with much longer stalks than the non-organic variety, so I end up paying more that way too.

                                          These amounts might not sound like a lot, but when you're on a very strict budget like I am, it really adds up. Now, I don't eat a lot of processed food and buy organic when I can, but I'm tired of people insisting that eating all organic is not that expensive. It is.

                                          Also, just because you aren't eating organic, doesn't mean you're eating manufactured food, so saying it's either one or the other is pretty extreme.

                                          Lastly, I know plenty of people who cook all their meals at home... but still eat pretty unhealthfully, and are unhealthy themselves. So "cook it yourself" is not the solution.

                                          15 Replies
                                          1. re: juliejulez

                                            I'm on a budget of about $100 per month. cooking for two adults

                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                              Are you able to buy all organic everything?

                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                Heck no. I don't even try. Just shop at costco.

                                            2. re: juliejulez

                                              I'm a meat eater too, but if that's your go-to then you will have some difficulty on a tight budget. I don't believe I insisted that organic is not that expensive. It is more expensive, but when and if food is a really high priority in your life, I think it becomes trade-off time. Did for me anyway.

                                              I think the "cook it yourself" concept indicates people are willing to stop and think about what they are eating. Of course not everyone will make good choices still, but for many people it is a good solution. It can be life changing.

                                              1. re: sandiasingh

                                                Well when the trade-offs become "pay a bill that's due" or "buy the organic chicken"... sorry but I have to choose the bill that's due. To tell me it's just about trade-offs is kind of BS and shows a lack of awareness of how it is for a lot of people. That's what it comes down to for me, and many many other people. I (and many other people who have suffered during this economic downturn) have already cut as many corners as possible... so it's not even really an option to cut out anything else. And honestly, if I end up with extra money, I'll probably do something like get a haircut (haven't had one in a year), or put it in savings... not spend it on overpriced food.

                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                  Why do you think I don't understand that? I am fully aware of "how it is for a lot of people."

                                                  1. re: sandiasingh

                                                    So why tell me "it's just about trade-offs"? What trade-offs do you suggest? Because to me, I read it as not buying/doing something else in order to be able to afford organic foods. When there's nothing to stop buying or doing, then that doesn't really work.

                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                      Julie...just keep in mind that the whole organic.....local foods movement is the result of mass marketing. The producers are business people whose goal is not to optimize our health status but to make lots of money.
                                                      I know you are from California like me so here is an example. A friend told me about Strauss Family Dairy products (Tomales Bay west of my hometown of Petaluma). All grass fed organic from cows in Marin and Sonoma Counties. The only store that carries it here is Raley's so I rush there to get my old fashioned milk in a glass bottle ...a glass bottle Julie!!
                                                      It was almost $7.00 for one half of a gallon. And tastes no different from any other whole milk. Yeah so now I buy milk on sale and pour it into my sterilized glass Strauss milk bottle. Works for me:)

                                                      1. re: MamasCooking

                                                        Oh totally it's a trendy thing right now. I try to buy local when I can, I live in a ruralish area here in CO so there's some decent things to buy in summer from the farm markets, and even from my grocery store who uses local suppliers if possible (nothing like what I could get in central CA though!). But most of it still isn't organic. I figure I'd rather buy the stuff I can see growing as I drive around, than worry about whether or not it's organic. But come winter... it's not local food and it's definitely not organic for the most part... just not an option around here.

                                                        And yeah, we had a dairy leave a flier on our door the other day... they do home delivery and the prices were similar to what you mention. I already have to buy lactose-free milk for the SO at $4 for a half gallon... not about to start paying more than that! It was also funny cause they also deliver cheese.... Tillamook cheese, so nowhere near being local. Pretty sure I can buy that at the grocery store.

                                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                                          Actually, it was Michael Pollan (in a NY Times magazine interview) himself who said that fresh and local was preferable to organic, assuming that the organic stuff was less local.

                                                          1. re: EricMM

                                                            I agree with this. I can get great produce at the local farmers market. It is not certified organic although the farmer may use mostly organic practices.

                                                            On the other hand, I can go to a Whole Foods and Oreo equivalent organic cookies.

                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                              I get my Newman's O's at Grocery Outlet. That way I can be frugal and organically righteous at the same time. :)

                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                Be careful. If you keep doing that you will have a smug cloud following you around after not too long.

                                                2. re: sandiasingh

                                                  People can eat well and maintain optimal health status even while consuming non organic foods. The issue is eating a well balanced diet that will yield the nutrients needed. I am also skeptical of the consumption of organic foods being *life changing*. I am asking you as an R.N. and a Chowhound to define exactly what you are alluding to when you say *life changing*. I also think that most adults are quite capable of selecting foods based on their own lifestyle....budget....preferences...cooking abilities etc.I also think it is pompous for someone to imply otherwise as you have done here.

                                              2. I don't find "real" to be a helpful descriptive term for food.

                                                15 Replies
                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                  In today's discussions on food issues, "real" means not processed. Fresh or raw, not in a package. A head of lettuce, not a bag of lettuce. A raw potato, not potatoes in a box or frozen container.

                                                  What does it mean to you?

                                                  1. re: sandiasingh

                                                    Not on my end of the discussion, it doesn't. Everything you do to your food is a process. If you cook at home, you are processing your food.

                                                    Euphemisms such as "real" and "processed" are no substitute for saying precisely what is being done to the food and why that is either good, bad, or indifferent.

                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                      I think this is really helpful. If you tell me that a head of lettuce is better than a bag of lettuce - it helps if you tell me why. Is it the bagging process that's the problem? Or is there some benefit to the leaves when they're attached? Those are different considerations. Is an organic orange (aka a food with an uneaten peel) the same in its benefits to the human body (as opposed to the environment) versus an organic tomato (eaten peel)?

                                                      By oversimplifying terms like real and processed it doesn't enable people to make smart choices about what they can achieve and what choices make sense for their lives/health.

                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                        Yes, it is the bagging process, the moisture that collects inside the plastic and the formation of e. coli. There are hundreds of news articles about it if you google it. That's after it's been torn apart and sent down a conveyor belt to be packaged. The rawest or most basic form of food is the most nutritious. I am not a raw advocate, but anything you do to a food including boiling, sautéing, freezing, etc. will diminish the nutrient value, but that's what we do as humans.

                                                        Large "organic" farms are barely that anymore. They are still factory farms and can be certified USDA organic and still use some forms of chemicals. The best source, of course, is local and organic, but if you can't buy organic (which is at least under some scrutiny compared to a box of mac and cheese), buy local. The fresher the food the more nutritious.

                                                        I'm not sure I understand your question about the orange and the tomato, but I prefer to keep my pesticide, herbicide and fungicide exposure to a minimum with or without a peel.

                                                        1. re: sandiasingh

                                                          My point of the tomato/orange question is in regards to the edible part of the plant being directly exposed to chemicals or not. I don't eat orange rind, I will eat tomato peel - therefore if I can only buy one organic item is it worth it to pick the organic tomato over the orange? Or if there's no difference, then I just pick the one that's relatively cheaper? Or is the message to those on a budget to drastically cut what they're "entitled" to eat.

                                                          My questions weren't so much about specific food questions - but rather that just using terms real/processed may not necessarily mean much to someone not in the know. Or if someone is like "I can't buy everything organic, therefore I won't bother with anything organic" - there is room to argue for the value in say organic X but not leaving aside organic A, B, and C until that person is in a softer financial position.

                                                          Slogans like "real food" are nice, but not necessarily meaningful on their own.

                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                            Yes, pick the organic tomato over the orange. An orange rind is very thick and since you don't eat it, you would not be ingesting chemicals directly although they may migrate to the interior. We tend to eat more tomatoes than oranges at a given time (such as in tomato sauce), so I would definitely go with the tomato.

                                                            I have very strong feelings about what some people feel other people are "entitled" to eat and have gone to battle with my local food pantry who is of the persuasion that people in need will eat any old swill, just toss them a bag of cheetos and they'll be happy.

                                                            If someone doesn't understand the difference between what is generally known as "processed food" and "real food," then explain it to them. People need to be educated and it doesn't take a lot. I try to educate and inform and then I let it go. My friends and family know where I stand and I don't bug them about it.

                                                            For people who want to improve their food purchases and have to make tough choices, tell them about the "dirty dozen" and how avoiding certain chemically-laden foods would be a step in the right direction.

                                                            http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ALB00035/...

                                                            I'm not using the words "real" and "food" as a slogan. I'm open to suggestions on how to say that a food is not processed.

                                                          2. re: sandiasingh

                                                            Actually, E. coli gets into produce due to cross contamination from humans and other animals. You are more likely to get it from fresh spinach than horrible frozen stuff.

                                                            1. re: Kalivs

                                                              Yes, I agree. I don't know if it can survive freezing. I believe e.coli can occur in water they use to wash the vegetables, liquid fertilizers, etc. The bacteria inside the plastic bags is probably something else. I've read so many press releases about e.coli in bagged greens that I cannot eat a salad in a restaurant anymore. Besides the fact that it tastes like crap.

                                                              1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                Years ago I lived in a South American country. Nearly all of our produce came from small nearby farms (except the tropical fruits were trucked in). There wasn't any organic certification program, but since production methods were pretty traditional, I'm sure the use of synthetic pesticides was small, and the fertilizer is organic. But we almost never ate raw salads. The few things we ate raw had to be peeled, or washed in an iodine solution. The fear was that the fertilizer was 'too' organic.

                                                                With that perspective, I'm amused by the worries about the safety of prewashed greens in the USA.
                                                                http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012...

                                                              2. re: Kalivs

                                                                Yes, but after the outbreak several years ago, the spinach growers improved their process for checking for preventing contamination. Fresh California spinach should now be as safe as any fresh vegetable.

                                                                1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                  "The rawest or most basic form of food is the most nutritious. I am not a raw advocate, but anything you do to a food including boiling, sautéing, freezing, etc. will diminish the nutrient value, but that's what we do as humans."

                                                                  This is actually untrue for any number of foods. Tomatoes become *more* nutritious after being cooked, and many nutrients in foods only become available after the cooking process.

                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                    If you don't process the heck out of carrots, you get 10% of the bioavailable vitamin A.
                                                                    Grind 'em or cook 'em.

                                                              3. re: GH1618

                                                                My wife does a ton of canning during the summer. When she drops those cans in the boiling water, that is described as processing the cans.

                                                              4. re: sandiasingh

                                                                <A head of lettuce, not a bag of lettuce.>

                                                                So if I pick up a head of lettuce at the grocery store and put it in a bag, it goes from real to fake?

                                                            2. It's what I do every day.

                                                              1. Pollan tends to be an elitist in his "common-sense" approach to a "healthful" lifestyle. Not everyone is born to wealth and not everyone can afford to buy a spectrum of wholesome and organic ingredients.

                                                                As George Burns used to say it's too bad the people who really know how to run the country are too busy driving cabs and cutting hair. Pollan's time would be better spent feeding the hungry rather than proselytizing about what we all need to do about our diets.

                                                                12 Replies
                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                  Yes, for every person shopping at Whole Foods, there are a thousand struggling to make ends meet. It has been documented that it costs more to buy healthy food, not merely "organic" food.

                                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                                    He is also not coming at food issues from a strictly scientific nutritional base. I thought he was a journalist. Does he have secondary science degrees?

                                                                    1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                      His degree is M.S. English. He is on the faculty of a school of journalism which has appointed him to a position as a science journalist, so that is something like a credential, albeit not from a scientific body. It is more usual for science writers to have some actual scientific training themselves.

                                                                      http://michaelpollan.com/press-kit/

                                                                    2. re: ferret

                                                                      Nor does everyone live in the SF bay area, with relatively easy access to a huge and diverse food culture and quality produce almost year round. Having grown up in a first generation Italian NY family that ate well and simply--we shopped everyday for fresh bread, seasonal produce (no grapes in winter, ever) and kept canned and frozen foods to a minimum, I try to maintain my grandparents' traditions, out of respect, yes, but mostly for taste and health and, let's not forget, pleasure. But it's never easy, and it does not help to call things "real"--which then implies other things are "fake". With some exceptions, all foods are real. And you don't need to have Marin County organic foragers on speed dial to eat well. With some common sense, restraint, and a little humor, you can eat healthily and well with conventional foods on hand--yes, by cutting back drastically or avoiding stuff like frozen pizza, soda, snacks, and the usual suspects, and by looking first to quality raw ingredients you prepare yourself. And it need not always be local, especially if you're living in Butte or Bismarck in January. Or work 2 jobs and have kids to feed. Let's also remember the sometimes crushing limits to "real" eating that class, race, and circumstance can present; it's not simply about being "enlightened" enough to make the proper personal choice.

                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                        Pollan leaves himself so open to criticism by an inability to provide some kind of a 25% version of what he proposes.

                                                                        If in my budget I can say "I'm ok with one less luxury ingredient, no more diet soda or no more lunches out - so that means I can buy 4 more organic or local items", or "I can now rearrange my schedule so I will have an extra 30 minutes to cook or shop 3 days a week" - how do I maximize that? Instead of laying out the ideal cooking and shopping plans, give me 4 purchase and cooking changes that would make me feel good about that choice.

                                                                        What I think might be a nice alternative would be breaking down those choices depending on where an individual might connect most. If a person connects most with choices for the environment - what are 5 great choices? Avoiding chemicals - 5 other great choices. Cooking more at home - 5 options. Weight loss/healthy eating - 5 more options. And make those points concise, not "buy all organic/local vegetables" - but "by buying organic apples specifically xyz".

                                                                        Pollan makes himself an easy to discard by his inability to see how expensive his proposals are, both in terms of dollars and time.

                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                          So it's not enough that he brings important points to our attention, he has to tailor each point to our own perspectives? We have no work of our own to do?

                                                                          Pollan establishes the ideal, or tries to. And it's a simple and far from elitist ideal, roughly speaking: eat what your grandparents ate. I can adapt my diet from that principle myself without his spoon to feed me. And if adapting means buying conventional potatoes more often than organic, at least I'm buying potatoes rather than Biggie Fries that day.

                                                                          Pollan is just the lighthouse. The ship is up to us.

                                                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                                                            Most health/wellness/lifestyle authors do that.

                                                                            Not everyone would need or benefit from such a break down, but at the moment Pollan is very easy to dismiss as a rich person's food guy. My other issue is that if it's just "eat what your grandparents ate" - then in terms of what my grandparents served my parents, it was just about ever new convenience food introduced in the 50's and 60's. Not everyone has some pastoral history and family cookbook they can go back to.

                                                                            If the point is that Pollan is the inspiration and everyone else is supposed to put their pieces together, then fine. I'll find another lighthouse I can relate to better. I'm not going to read a series of his works just to find the few bits that inspire me. Because holistically, he doesn't speak to me as offering an achievable lifestyle. And I hardly think I'm alone in that thought.

                                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                                              There might be a generation gap between you and Pollan if your parents grew up in the 1950's & 60's. Try to eat what your great grandparents ate.

                                                                              1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                There is a generation gap as my father was born in the mid 40's and my mother was born in the mid 50's. But that doesn't change the fact that I don't know what that is. (Not to mention that from anecdotes I've heard, my mother's grandparents died of heart disease complications in their mid 50's and 60's - so who knows if that'd be recommended either)

                                                                                As far as I'm concerned being told to eat what my great grandparents ate is the same as being told to eat what "cave men" ate. I don't have any actual basis to rely on and would still need a book to tell me what that was.

                                                                                1. re: cresyd

                                                                                  Considerably more weevils, rockdust, and spoiled meat.
                                                                                  Less ecoli contamination.

                                                                        2. re: ferret

                                                                          Pollan is kind of odd in that he's apparently (based on his book "Cooked") a pretty recent convert to home cooking - odd I mean in that you'd think that anyone who had been so interested in food and its local/fresh/organic sourcing for so long would have been more interested in preparing it. Like all recent converts, he's more Catholic than the Pope on the subject and prone to lecturing.

                                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                            Especially the current pope, who said "who am I to judge."

                                                                          1. Michael Pollan does not understand economics. It is very easy to buy all your food from your local farmers market and nearby producers when you are a millionaire who works from home and lives in the heart of the American produce producing region. For many of us working stiffs that is much more difficult if not impossible.

                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                                              This is a valid argument in a broad spectrum.

                                                                              Take the pineapple...you can buy a fresh whole pineapple in January for .99, 2.99, 5.99 in my area of NJ. You can buy it whole, cut or halved. You pay extra for having someone else cut it for you. You can buy what you'll use in a week. Heck, I've even seen pineapple sold in the produce dept by the cup. And the markdown bin has some very worthwhile produce waiting for a 'home.' Great choices, one decision.

                                                                              The economics of any food purchase aren't dictated by one person offering an overview. Only YOU know what works for you but the choices for what works for any of us are grander than ever.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                I live just outside of Salem, Oregon in the Willamette Valley. We get great produce from May through October. We get nothing in the winter.

                                                                                During the summer my wife and I make a point to visit the Salem Farmers Market almost every Saturday. We load up on produce. How does Michael Pollan suggest that I eat local produce in January?

                                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                  You'll have to ask Mr. Pollan (smirk) that one. Frozen fruit pieces go on sale, working with the produce you can get in the winter is the obvious answer. I shop everywhere and work with what I can afford. No brainer, yes?

                                                                                  I was trying to address the economics you mentioned. Mr Pollan doesn't know every situation true but you and I know what we can buy in our community to make the food budget work. And that is the only way to go.

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                    Agree. We do a ton of canning and freezing in the summer to try and get that produce to last through the winter. We just ran out of berrins last week though and my three year old wants berries in his oatmeal. I have no problem going to Costco and buying a clamshell of berries from Mexico. A lot of people don't have that option though.

                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                      "We do a ton of canning and freezing in the summer to try and get that produce to last through the winter."

                                                                                      See? You're doing better at this than I am.

                                                                                    2. re: jpc8015

                                                                                      How are any of us to reply on Pollan's behalf? This is where thinking for ourselves comes into play. It's something I've had to address as well, and the answers I've found are:

                                                                                      1. Don't. Hit the grocery store and buy what's in season, mostly root vegetables.

                                                                                      2. Preserve what you get in spring and summer. (This is not cost effective for me, so see #1.)

                                                                                      If we avail ourselves of local farmer's markets 3 or 6 or 9 months of the year we're still better off on the whole than otherwise.

                                                                                      But Pollan's recommendations are not bad simply because we can't afford them or don't live where they are practical, any more than Suze Orman's advice is bad simply because I can't save up 6 months of living expenses or fund a 401(k). That's not on them.

                                                                                        1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                          I agree that Pollan's advice is good advice for those who are fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of it. Then there are the other 316,999,999 Americans...

                                                                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                            Oh come on :) First of all, Pollan's advice is not new information. Second, the abundance of choices at every price point exists today. Discounters, small produce markets, mega grocery stores, wholesale, you name it. And the barter and food sharing going on is no small enterprise either.

                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                              I can go to the store and buy a chicken for five or six dollars. The "Pollan" chicken costs 4x that much. If it comes down to paying my auto insurance or buying chicken that makes me feel good about myself, guess which path I am taking.

                                                                                              Fortunately for Pollan, he does not have to deal with those sorts of trade-offs.

                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                I make no assumptions about Pollan. I don't fault people for having deeper pockets or for trying to be a part of educating the public.

                                                                                                But I certainly respect and agree we all make choices that work for ourselves. OTOH, my husband would have a different opinion about Mr Pollan. Makes for very interesting dinner conversation!

                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                  I don't fault Pollan for being a succesful author with deep pockets; I've read most of his books. I just think that he is a little self righteous and there is an enormous gap between what he advocates and reality.

                                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                    I think right now he's been given the microphone and he's using it. I haven't read all of his books or every word of the book I did read. I don't read a great many books of this nature. I do talk to a great many professional though and for the most part the pros I know don't find much off about his perspective. That it's not leading people down a unhealthy path but maybe a hard to reach path.

                                                                                                    I rely on simple solutions. I eat well, I sleep well, I workout, I maintain a youthful mindset, I'm never retiring because I see no point (you rest, you rust) and I try to respect the beliefs others have.

                                                                                          2. re: ennuisans

                                                                                            Right. They're bad because they ignore good clinical science.

                                                                                            1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                              Thinking people don't need Michael Pollan to tell them that controlling what you buy, and ensuring that you prepare your meals rather than relying on convenience foods is optimal to good health and well-being. Just like I don't need someone to tell me that finding a job that pays well for a workday that's 8 hours or less, requires next to no commute or business travel and places no stressful demands will ease my life.

                                                                                              Being helpful is taking you to the next step, what he's doing is being preachy, which helps no one.

                                                                                              1. re: ferret

                                                                                                His early writing about meat production was a huge eye opener for me, got me doing a lot of additional research and due diligence about the sources of my food and created a lot of movement toward a more sustainable food supply. So I regard that as tremendously helpful.

                                                                                                It's health and nutrition he's out to lunch on, metabolic science, etc. As he demonstrates with his stupid advice atop this thread. He should get out of the cooking/dietary advice business, he sucks at it.

                                                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                                                  I agree with you. We are all more than capable of making our own food decisions without the influence of a journalist who has limited insight and training about how the human body functions in regards to nutritional needs. His soapbox is social and political not physiological or holistic.

                                                                                        2. I think Pollan is making a totally valid point in this video. He's basically saying that if you cook everything yourself from scratch (i.e. using ingredients that would have been recognizable 150 yrs ago), you'll probably end up eating healthier on the whole. I don't think he expects everyone to do this 100% of the time, but it's a good goal to keep in mind.

                                                                                          Many types of foods that I can buy easily are things that are too time-consuming for me to make frequently myself. French fries, donuts, burgers, etc.

                                                                                          I actually used to have a rule for myself that I would never purchase cookies. If I wanted cookies, I had to make them myself. The only problem was that I ended up getting very good at making cookie dough from scratch extremely quickly :)

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                            Haha Dave, I was just thinking when I was reading upthread... I had to cut out baking at home except for special occasions because I did it far too often and had no self control! Yet, I've had a package of store-bought cookies (berry newtons) in the pantry for over a month and I only have one every now and then. (It's also freaky that they are still good after a month).

                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                              I love to bake and could do it daily, so Pollan's advice doesn't really apply to me (nor is it probably meant to). If I bake a batch of chocolate caramel cupcakes, the two of us end up eating 10 cupcakes over the course of a few days. If I go buy a Sprinkles cupcake instead, I end up eating exactly one cupcake.

                                                                                              1. re: emily

                                                                                                Same here. I'd bake cookies/ cake everyday if they were better for me. That's why the BF's coworkers love me. I bake when I want a couple cookies or to try a new recipe, and they get the leftovers. Of course I don't let them know that they are my guinea pigs.

                                                                                                1. re: emily

                                                                                                  You are supposed to eat all 10 yourself.

                                                                                                  The subject line is: "Eat Anything You Want--Just Cook It Yourself" - that applies to family members as well as the chief cook and bottle washer. Each person must cook for him/her self to benefit from his dictum. :)

                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                    This is a fair point. I've moved back with my retired parents and would be glad to cook full-fat and sugar foods every day, but the work I do doesn't do my diabetic dad any favors if he eats the results.

                                                                                                  2. re: emily

                                                                                                    To be fair, there are lots of people who would buy more than one Sprinkles cupcake.

                                                                                                    Being able to buy cupcakes at a store probably increases overall cupcake consumption, on average, since there are loads of people who eat cupcakes all the time, but never bake them.

                                                                                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                                      It really comes down to how/why you make those choices.

                                                                                                      I don't bring such stuff into my home, or onto my restaurant table as a rule. Don't miss it, don't eat it that way.

                                                                                                      . I'll taste a sample in a store now and then, or buy one single mini cupcake and walk away. At home, you won't bake nor eat just one mini cupcake. But you can walk into a bake shop or dept. and get just one.

                                                                                                      And then forget about them again.

                                                                                              2. I'm a little surprised on the amount of pushback to Pollan's piece.

                                                                                                The basic facts of the situation are that Americans have put on a huge amount of weight over the past few decades, with an accompanying rise of dietary disease. In that time, America's diet has changed in favor of convenience foods. The percentage of household income spent on food is at near historic lows going back as far as you wish to look.

                                                                                                For certain America would be a much healthier nation if people ate their own cooking.

                                                                                                81 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                  Shall we start by closing all Chowhound boards except Home Cooking and Cookware?

                                                                                                    1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                      Only the posts about restaurant trends that should be eliminated ...

                                                                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                        I forgot about that. That needs to be put front and center. Gardeners are the only ones who can completely avoid processed foods. Nearly everything I buy at the grocery has been processed to some degree or other.

                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                          Wow, you're an optimistic gardener for sure:) I'd say even the most productive gardener is going to have trouble producing enough, say wheat and rice to feed themselves without recourse to a market - that's some pretty heavy gardening, the kind that moves into light farming. I'm not that ambitious, I just grow herbs and peppers on my front porch.

                                                                                                    2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                      I won't speak for others - but I know that my pushback for Pollan doesn't come from disagreeing about cooking more at home, but rather a tone of his suggestions.

                                                                                                      I just returned to the US after living overseas in a country where my local salary and the cost of food meant that I spent a far higher percentage of my income on food than I would in the US. It was a great experience in learning how to cook more, and discovering areas where I used convenience foods where I didn't need to.

                                                                                                      I also learned areas where the equation of "price+time" made some convenience foods far more worth the price versus home made (pasta comes immediately to mind). I feel as though Pollan's approach has a tone of "all or nothing" and thus if you can't do it all, you don't know what new ideas to keep in mind.

                                                                                                      I do cook more at home than the average America, and I can't do everything Pollan preaches. So am I already going "half way" and just put his ideas aside? Or are there a few extra new ideas that would have really unique impact. And if those ideas cost me a bit more than I'd love to spend (either money or time), it'd be nice to hear exactly why that'd be a great idea.

                                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                        No more of a tone than say when Jamie Oliver took to the public schools and tried to shake up the cafeteria model. Or Gordon R. stepping into a restaurant on its last heel to rework the place and hopefully help it reopen under better circumstances. The tone is one of help, assistance, education and it's not geared to make us feel bad. It's only a perspective based on that 'spokesperson' sharing what they believe. These ideas can't' be one size fits all or the be all answer for everyone. But that doesn't make them offensive when we don't warm up to the premise.

                                                                                                        When I watched the clip the OP linked and even with 60% of one of Pollan's books under my belt, I don't feel I've really gotten his full stance on American's eating habits. I've only scratched HIS surface.

                                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                          The difference with Oliver and Ramsay's approaches is that they're dealing with entities that are already in the foodservice industry and have either lost their way or otherwise need educating/reinvigorating.

                                                                                                          Pollan verges on "let them eat cake" preaching by providing a not-especially-helpful personal perspective on lifestyle that is not especially relevant to the vast majority of the population.

                                                                                                          1. re: ferret

                                                                                                            You mean we are not all millionaires and professors at Berkley?

                                                                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                              You don't need to be a millionaires or a professor to benefit by eating healthy.

                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                You don't, but the approach advocated by Pollan is prohibitively expensive and a logistic nightmare for the vast majority of people.

                                                                                                                Pollan is a major contributor to the enormous smug cloud covering the entire bay area. Alice Waters does her part though too.

                                                                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                  I couldn't disagree more. Mainly because the ideas advocated by researchers don't come with a mandatory response by anyone.

                                                                                                                  Ignore it, dismiss it if it doesn't 'speak to you' but I don't see the point of suggesting some negative emotional word attachment (smug cloud) as the basis for factual rebuttal.

                                                                                                                  You sound angry enough to preach about it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    When Pollan goes around demonizing the people who provide the vast majority of the food we eat and the methods they use to get it to us it does provoke a response. The fact is that factory farming has kept food affordable, period.

                                                                                                                    I have read his books, I have read his articles in the New York Times. The man is a self important douche bag who emits a giant cloud of smug. He thinks he is better than you.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                      " The fact is that factory farming has kept food affordable, period."

                                                                                                                      Not period. It's made us sick and increasingly defenseless against serious diseases.

                                                                                                                      He's reporting on an bad industry, one the U.S. CDC says is causing antibiotic resistance at a minimum.

                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                        The CDC report does not condemn "factory farming," only the inappropriate use of antibiotics in animals, and they also blame overuse of antibiotics in humans.

                                                                                                                        http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/thr...

                                                                                                                        It is true that the decreasing relative cost of food in the US is due to more efficient food production. This applies to farming practices which do not contribute to the problem of declining effectiveness of antibiotics as well as those that do.

                                                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                          Condemnation is not on their list of duties. They *assess* threats to health and this one is very high on the list. 80% of the antibiotics manufactured in the U.S. end up in feedlots and on produce.

                                                                                                                          http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/thr...

                                                                                                                          Then there's the fouling of soil and waterways with all sorts of drugs and chemicals used in a variety of farming operations.

                                                                                                                2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                  Not what he's advocating, though, not overall.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                    I was not speaking for Pollan. Those were my thoughts. You don't need to be a millionaires or a professor to benefit by eating healthy...

                                                                                                                    You know I'm naive. Naive about how angry people get over ideas that come from other people. As if it's the last word on a topic. As if the mind control comes right off the page.

                                                                                                                    I should know better.

                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                      One needn't be angry to think Pollan is overrated. I'm inclined to agree with jpc8015's characterization of Pollan and Waters, but I'm not angry about their influence. I just think they are irrelevant to the lives of most people, even here in their backyard.

                                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                        I question what any of us base relevance on. What influences us is personal, our reactions subjective.

                                                                                                                        I don't have enough information under my belt to make such a determination. But I don't anger easily.

                                                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                          Due to his publications about the integrity of our food supply and its effects on environmental, public and personal health, he's relevant to you whether you choose to disregard or disrespect him or not.

                                                                                                                          He's made huge contributions on that front..

                                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                            Exactly. They are marketing to a certain demographic that reside in the hills of Berkeley not tenants of public housing over in Oakland:)

                                                                                                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                              Oakland's farmers' market was the first to accept food stamps and has long courted a diverse network of purveyors. There are many dedicated people who are trying to make sure fresh, local food is available to people, regardless of income.

                                                                                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                            I think you're the one getting heated, I'm certainly not. I just have a different view of the facts. I don't understand why it's a personal issue for you? In all sincerity, not criticising.

                                                                                                                            I have taken much good from Pollan's writings about food production, and been irritated by how much damage his public platform can do, given his advocacy on a topic where he's truly uninformed, and adhering to a personal ideal.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                              You're not hearing my tone. I couldn't be farther from angered, mcf. I've already stated my own naive nature on this subject and you've taken time to offer alternatives to my thinking. So what's the issue? I don't have any.

                                                                                                                              I also said I would read further and I plan to.
                                                                                                                              I also haven't agreed with some of the other discussions this thread led to. Also no biggie. I'm listening and read along like everyone else.

                                                                                                                              When I said, I don't anger easily that's what I meant.

                                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                Okay, I sorry. I take it back. My bad.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                  Given the size of the subject matter and the rapid fire discussion, I can see where you might have misunderstood my interest.

                                                                                                                                  FWIW, this entire thread has given me a good deal to think about. And I believe that was the OP's point after all.

                                                                                                                    2. re: ferret

                                                                                                                      The difference is that they are different people with different focuses, beliefs and approaches to how American's eat and deal with food preparation...in diff settings.

                                                                                                                      Plenty of media attention pro and con was paid to Jamie Oliver (how dare he) and Gordon over the work they have put forth.

                                                                                                                      I tried to make a small analogy, perhaps I failed.

                                                                                                                    3. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                      I would say the difference between Pollan and specifically Oliver's approach with the schools is that Pollan does not truly provide workable options. When Oliver goes into a school kitchen he knows their limits of what they can spend, the staff they have, the training had by the staff, etc. So Oliver approaches them with, ok - given these limits lets go with - and then presents a plan.

                                                                                                                      In Pollan's approach to the home cook, or really society at large - there are times when the tone does not feel like it takes into account other's limits (most notably, time and money). When he makes comments like "I could make more money if I worked x more hours a week, but I choose to use that time to cook" - I don't hear the voice of a man saying "I'll continue to do without having a vacation this year so I can use that time to cook". Let alone, "I'll continue to not pay all of my bills so I can use that time to cook".

                                                                                                                      In my opinion, Pollan is very good with big ideas on food and cooking but dreadful at translating them to a diverse public.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                        Maybe because Pollan and Oliver approach the research from a different context. I brought in the comparison because fault with their approaches to provide a fix have been challenged. They do speak to different audiences. I agree. They aren't the same type of advocate but they both have been met with harsh criticisms.

                                                                                                                        Who knows maybe Mr Pollan will offer workable options in his next book and Mr Oliver will feel strongly about new projects. These are two men with a great deal more than one project on their plates.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                          Maybe because Pollan, as a journalist, is trained to find information and present it in an understandable way, rather than tell people what to do with that information.

                                                                                                                          Oliver meanwhile is trained to know what to do with food but not so much on how it gets to him.

                                                                                                                          Really the criticisms of both guys comes down to those differences more than anything.

                                                                                                                      2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                        Having read "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Cooked" I never got the impression that Pollan was preaching. He is writing about his own journey of discovering his relationship with food. His work is very personal and reflective.

                                                                                                                        When it gets condensed down to sound bites later in the media, then maybe that's when it starts to sound preachy.

                                                                                                                        As a professor of journalism, his research and investigation are impressive and the writing style is clear, precise and compelling.

                                                                                                                        I recommend that if you have the time and enjoy expanding your understanding of your relationship to food (and that's why we are all on CH right?), you should go to the source and read one of his books and then judge for yourself.

                                                                                                                        1. re: pamf

                                                                                                                          Beautifully stated, thank you. Next time, I'll rely on you or another well spoken CH to convey what I so poorly try to say.

                                                                                                                          Now, I'm off to read more to learn much more on my own.

                                                                                                                          1. re: pamf

                                                                                                                            The books are preachy. Especially "In Defense of Food".

                                                                                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                              Haven't read that one yet. I will take my own advice and read it, along with some of his other earlier works. I'll report back. Heading to Amazon . . .

                                                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                I would agree. It's not a bad thing to be preachy, necessarily, but the books are preachy.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                  I also think that Cooked is pretty preachy.

                                                                                                                                  Now if someone is preaching (or being preachy) and it's a 'sermon' I can relate to, then it doesn't feel bad. Ultimately the end of my story is that Pollan is never going to be the food leader I'd like him to be. I find that he speaks of many things I agree with, but then I find him to abandon me half way.

                                                                                                                                  Pollan hates the microwave for their association with frozen dinners. Fine, hate on frozen dinners. But the microwave itself? For someone with less time, it means that all those hours put into a meal the day/weekend before can translate into a super fast meal on a busy night as opposed to convenience food alternatives.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                    Not only that, but reheating in a microwave is energy-efficient. My microwave stopped working, so I now reheat food in my gas oven.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                      I have 3 ovens in my kitchen, 4 if you count the microwave. The microwave is used daily, the others - not so much.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                        I've lived off and on with a microwave my whole adult life and I can do just fine without one - but I do much better with one.

                                                                                                                                        I'm not saying I'm asking for Pollan's next book to be called Nuked! or something - but his total disregard for the equipment loses me.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                          If I'm following you and your interpretation of Pollan vs microwave he's making those statements in the context of prepared foods and his stance on their nutritional (or lack thereof) value. Not exactly an anti microwave comment across the board.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                            (Hence the "preachy" criticism.) I'd be more impressed if he actually looked at how most Americans lived rather than being the Martha Stewart of food writers. Sure, we'd all love to eat daily meals with our families that consist of items grown in our gardens or sourced from local farmers and were painstakingly prepared by mom and served on heirloom dishes with candles made from beeswax lovingly collected from our backyard hives.

                                                                                                                                            There's a place and a market for that kind of thinking, but once you start turning it into the standard that we should all strive for -- then it becomes preachy.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                          The microwave is the best, most foolproof way to poach eggs. I use it mostly for that, steaming vegetables, and reheating coffee. Occasionally popping (from the kernel) popcorn. Pollan tends to have tunnel vision.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                            Please share your MW poaching method. Is it the one where you crack an egg into a 2-cup bowl with 1 cup of water, then nuke for 1 minute? I've not been too successful with it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                              Do you always end up with the yolk cooking too fast, the white too slowly?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                Yeah, pretty much. I've done shorter increments, but that still leaves the whites pretty..... mushy. I've all but given up on poached eggs, and might just move on to (very) soft-boiled instead. That way, at least they keep their shape (another issue I have with pan or skillet poaching -- the damn whites flying all over the fucking place) and might be in the properly cooked state that I love :-)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                  Have you tried these?

                                                                                                                                                  http://www.amazon.com/Fusionbrands-Se...

                                                                                                                                                  I love mine. Damn whites stay put. The only downside is you have to grease them, but that's not such a hardship.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                    I've thought about getting those.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                      Yep, have 'em. Used 'em. Whites stuck, despite greasing. And I found them awkward to deal with.

                                                                                                                                                      Maybe poached eggs and I are just not meant to be together in my house. Just in restaurants..... wah.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                        That's disappointing! Now I wish I'd saved the aluminum egg poacher I grew up with. It made the prettiest poached eggs. It was like this, but not non stick. :-) http://www.amazon.com/Excelsteel-Stai...

                                                                                                                                                        This one might be better: http://www.amazon.com/Egg-Poacher-for...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                          I don't know if we're talking about the same concoction, but my mom had a saucepan you'd fill with water, and then put an inset with little indentations on top that you'd put a little pat of butter & then cracked the eggs in. Put on the lid, et voilá.

                                                                                                                                                          Of course, those aren't truly poached, more like steamed in butter. But what could possibly be wrong with that?

                                                                                                                                                          I found a similar one here in the US, but the indentations for the eggs were too small for the ginormous eggs American chickens seem to lay -- whites all over, so I've not used this anymore either.

                                                                                                                                                          >BIG sigh<

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                            My mother's was like the ones I posted, and we put butter in it and maybe wiped it around. The cups were set into holes in a piece that sat on top, and had little tab handles to remove them individually once done the way each person wanted.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                              Sorry, I s'pose I could've actually checked your links :-)

                                                                                                                                                              Yes, those are similar, 'cept ours didn't have extra cups to insert.

                                                                                                                                                              And $37.99 for a 2 egg poacher? Holy maccheroni!

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, that's too bad. I spray the inside with olive oil (should I also try to get you to buy a Misto?) and run a butter knife around the egg to free it. What I like especially is that the poached egg is flat on one side, so it sits well on toast.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                            The MW method does that, too. Nicely shaped and all. If it weren't for the overcooked yolk/undercooked white.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                That's actually kind of cool. And *much* cheaper than I expected once I saw it was a WS product... I was guessing it would be twice as much as for the 2 eggs poacher :-D

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                        1 cup bowl, 1/2 cup of water. The amount of water makes a big difference. I usually flip it at the end and add another 5-10 seconds to set the white on the underside.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                                          How cooked is the yolk compared to the white?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, I'll give it a shot. Hope I have a 1 cup bowl :-)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                If ya have one. I think my espresso cups are too small.

                                                                                                                                                                Maybe a ramekin.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                  You could do a quail egg in that cup.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                              I think that's the smallest part of the health equation. The problem is faulty government and other health authority guidelines bought and paid for by certain food lobbies. Sugar, grain, corn and pharma, notably.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                It doesn't follow. There's nothing in the guidelines that say 'eat more convenience foods'. Nothing about eating more sugar or corn sweeteners. People are not automatons following every dictum of the government or medical bodies.

                                                                                                                                                From a USDA study (1999 publication)
                                                                                                                                                http://www.ers.usda.gov/ersDownloadHa...

                                                                                                                                                "A continuation of recent (1992-96) growth rates in per capita servings
                                                                                                                                                through 2005 suggests that, on average, diets will fall short of Pyramid serving recommendations for fruits, some vegetable subgroups (dark
                                                                                                                                                green leafy vegetables, deep yellow vegetables, and dry beans, peas, and lentils), and dairy products, while servings of added sugars and added fats and oils will far exceed recommended upper consumption limits.
                                                                                                                                                "
                                                                                                                                                http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  Those are non issues. If you doubt it, just check out investigations of the sugar lobby winning the war over the food pyramid, and their dollars, along with cereal and drug dollars buying recommendations for 55-60% of calories from carbs and added sugars even for diabetics.

                                                                                                                                                  When research demonstrated that grains raise blood sugar as much as table sugar does, in allegiance to their sponsors, the diabetes assn. proclaimed that sugar was now OK for diabetics, not any worse than grains, when clinical evidence indicated limits on grains were in order instead. Perverse.

                                                                                                                                                  Then they buried a study they'd funded that found that simply by increasing protein and lowering carbs, diabetics could control their disease and be empowered.

                                                                                                                                                  At the time, I believe General Mills and Cadbury Schweppes were their top two corporate donors.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                    The OxFam report discussed here:
                                                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/931572

                                                                                                                                                    shows that nutritional problems, both the poor access to fresh produce, and obesity and diabetes, are not limited to the USA. The reach of the American sugar lobby does not reach to Holland or Saudi Arabia.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                      I'm discussing U.S. food production and nutrition guidelines and the clinical outcomes.

                                                                                                                                                      And our drug and food manufacturers are polluting a lot of other countries. At least Sweden has abandoned the low fat carb wagon; too expensive to pay for all the health problems that ensue. http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/swed...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                        If this is report that they are crowing about
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.sbu.se/en/Published/Yellow...
                                                                                                                                                        SBU is not jumping on the low-carb bandwagon.

                                                                                                                                                        Many of the items in the summary are marked as 'insufficient evidence'. There is talk of moderate low carb diets being good for short term weight loss, but in the long term there is little difference compared to other diets.

                                                                                                                                                        http://www.odi.org.uk/sites/odi.org.u...
                                                                                                                                                        fig 2.19 compares US and Swedish (2005) guidelines.

                                                                                                                                                        2005 is the latest I see on this official site
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.slv.se/en-gb/Group1/Food-a...

                                                                                                                                                        2012 Nordic recommendations
                                                                                                                                                        http://www.norden.org/en/publications...
                                                                                                                                                        "Typical features of a healthy dietary
                                                                                                                                                        pattern as described in NNR 2012 include plenty of vegetables, fruit and berries, pulses, regular intake of fish, vegetable oils, wholegrain, low-fat alternatives of
                                                                                                                                                        dairy and meat, and limited intake
                                                                                                                                                        of red and processed meat, sugar,
                                                                                                                                                        salt and alcohol."

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                          It's a first step and a big change for them, but still potentially ketogenic for many, at least initially.

                                                                                                                                                          At 20% calorie from carbs lower limit, and 40% maximum maintenance puts it right where Protein Power or Atkins often ends up in maintenance at the high end, though it's rare for folks to find 40% optimal. They make it clear it's modeled on Atkins.

                                                                                                                                                          This means that you slowly add carbs back if you're at goal weight or if you're in good diabetic control, whatever your purpose is, until you find your own individual limit, not some government agencie's fantasy number.

                                                                                                                                                          "In addition, advisors to the Swedish government speak to other benefits of an Atkins-like diet that permits higher-fat foods. Those benefits highlighted include both satisfaction and satiety, which are in large part, responsible for greater long-term sustainability. This news also follows suit with research released in the June issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, which showed that a carbohydrate-managed approach, such as the Atkins Diet, is more effective for long-term weight loss and maintenance than a conventional low-fat diet.[2] Investigators on that study also showed that low-carbohydrate diets were both beneficial and safe for the highly-insulin resistant, carbohydrate-intolerant population, who need to keep carbohydrate consumption low long-term."

                                                                                                                                                          At the lower end of the guidelines, the diet is ketogenic, since ketosis is typically induced at about 100 carb grams per day, initially.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                            http://experiencelife.com/newsflashes...
                                                                                                                                                            "Debunking News of Sweden’s “Low-Carb, High-Fat” Guidelines"
                                                                                                                                                            As I suspected, Sweden did not issue new guidelines. I gave the link to the recent 'Obesity and diet' review study, which found some benefits to a moderate low carb diet, but that is the extent of the news.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                  The federal government is the last place in the world I would go to get nutrition advice. For that, I would go to a doctor...but I guess that may be like going to the federal government now.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                    Who do you think runs the CDC, FDA and NIH? Doctors refusing to sign strong ethics policy agreements that would limit their receipt of industry monies.

                                                                                                                                                    Medical school does not teach nutrition. As one Harvard medical researcher put it: "Drug companies own medicine."

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                      I don't mean that I would go to just any doctor. You have to build a relationship with your doctor so that over the course of years they are able to understand what works for you. Any "doctor" employed by the federal government is nothing more than a pimp.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                        Does that include doctors working for the VA and the military?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                          No. I guess I should have thought that through a little farther.

                                                                                                                                                3. Great thread. I'm always baffled by the people that say it's too expensive to cook at home.

                                                                                                                                                  42 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                                    Yes me too. But I have built a very well stocked pantry and can make meals of many cusines on a whim. If I had to go out and buy condements for each meal beyond the main protein it would bump the cost of the meal at least is the short term. After a while the price per meal would go down as you built your pantry

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, this. I teach, mostly casually w/friends and kids of friends, and mostly complete beginners, non-cooker, or never cookers.

                                                                                                                                                      Starting from scratch is _very_ expensive. They usually have no idea how to get started and don't have enough $ to begin with, much less go totally organic. So we start easy, one part of the day at a time (b'fast or dinner) and always start w/the things _they_ like to eat, not what i say or what the experts/pundits say.

                                                                                                                                                      My friends kid we started w/scones and biscuits, coffee (made @ home not Star$) and fresh whole fruit, dumb stuff - how long does milk last? whats the difference between 2% and whole. How do i eat a tangerine? are the seeds poisonous?
                                                                                                                                                      seriously, he was so embarassed. i thought he was being a goof but his family _never_ bought any fruit except apples and bananas.

                                                                                                                                                      I got him to taste soy and almond and rice types. Learn to buy fruit in-season.... ah, what does in-season mean?
                                                                                                                                                      whats a 'season' ? is that why stuff is cheaper sometimes?

                                                                                                                                                      Look, many food people are so highly informed, well-educated about all things food and lots are food snobs.
                                                                                                                                                      Peopple, especially under-30, who don't know hardly anything, are embarassed and feel stupid asking. So they don't.

                                                                                                                                                      You could be helping other people learn if you meet them where they are - not where you think they should be. Check yourself - food pepole (like all of us) can be huge
                                                                                                                                                      jerks. Drop the condecension. reach out to people.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kariin

                                                                                                                                                        ' soy and almond and rice types' - milk? I don't think my grandma would have recognized any of those. At least not the tetrapack processed versions. :)

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                                      Speaking from experience... to GET STARTED cooking at home after not doing it is expensive. For someone on a limited income, spending an extra $10-20 a week to get the staple items (on top of the food they'd normally buy) isn't really an option.

                                                                                                                                                      When I moved into my SO's house, I had to stock the kitchen. It took me a good 6 months and extra money to get it to where I am now, where I can stick to my budget of $50/week. I was averaging about $75-80 a week during the "stock up" period. I also learned a lot about shopping and stocking up during sales, and I had to meal plan pretty carefully to make sure my meals didn't require more than 1-2 more expensive ingredients a week. Thankfully, I had the free time to do this. A family with 2 working parents and kids probably wouldn't.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                                        Cooking at home is not expensive. Cooking the food that Pollan advocates is.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                          I'm skeptical that it's unaffordable. I think it's more a matter of priorities. Households spend under 12 percent of their disposable income on food. In 1960 it was almost 19 percent. There is no "right amount" for this sort of statistic, but it does show that consumers have made a choice. They have chosen to spend less overall but consume more calories, principally from more meats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates.

                                                                                                                                                          Plenty of people I know complain about $4.99 organic chicken as unaffordable but don't think anything about dropping 5 bucks at Starbucks on a latte and a scone. I'm not judging, but think many do protest a bit much.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                            Where did you obtain those statistics? Do you have a link?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                                              The data on household spending on food vs disposable income is here:

                                                                                                                                                              http://www.ers.usda.gov/datafiles/Foo...

                                                                                                                                                              Lots of related data is also available

                                                                                                                                                              http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                                But that's ignoring other factors like the astronomical rise of housing costs. (well above inflation or income growth in many areas). If you have to spend a higher proportion of your income on housing, you will by default be spending less on other things.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                                                  Don't forget that the cost of higher education has been outpacing inflation for decades. Isn't Michael Pollan a college professor?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                    And education and enrichment for your kids as public schools have been gutted. I have a daughter in public school, and while I love her school, I also pay a boatload of money for afterschool care, gymnastics and swimming lessons, and summer camps. Not to mention the boatload of money we pay for our son's daycare. In 1960 I would have been a Stay at Home mother and our income would have been smaller but I wouldn't have been paying for these things and we would have bought our house for $15,000 instead of a LOT more. Of course a lot more of our income would have been spent on food. (And we spend a lot on food)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                                                      Which public schools have been gutted? Every year we spend more and more money on public schools and get less and less out of them.

                                                                                                                                                                      http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display....

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                        California's public education system is a shambles, particularly when you compare with the 1960's. Has a lot to do with property tax limits (Prop 13 was passed in 1978). Our elementary school has no: library, P.E., arts, music. We fill in as much as possible through grants and volunteerism and partnering with city services (the kids go to the public library down the street). There's no G&T program at the school, and AFAIK there aren't any special accommodations for special needs students. It's possible that the dollars per student are higher (though adjusted for inflation?) but I don't know where those dollars go.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Savour

                                                                                                                                                                          Go walk through faculty parking at your local high school and see what kind of cars the administrators are driving. You should be able to answer your own question about where the money goes.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                            Folks, this is getting way away from anything to do with food. Can we let the school funding discussion go, please?

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                              Where can I buy a $4.99 organic chicken? I'll take a case

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                  4.90/lb is a lot different than 4.99 a chicken. If the whole organic chicken cost 4.99 you bet I'd be buying that instead of the non-kind. Unfortunately 4.99/lb is more accurate.

                                                                                                                                                                  And, I know for me personally, I don't go to places like Starbucks, nor do a lot of other people on a strict budget... so again, saying "just cut out something else" is an unrealistic suggestion for people who really cannot afford it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                    He didn't write "4.99 a chicken." Chicken is sold by the pound.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                  I understood what was meant, since $4.99 is cheap for a whole feedlot chicken. It was an error, but not hard to figure out, no?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah I assumed the $4.99 was per pound and was just making fun with the missing information. But when the $4.99 was compared to a coffee drink it was not a good comparison. A regular 4 lb chicken would be $20. Not cheap

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                      I think the comparison is fine. I know plenty of people who have daily coffee shop use, but I don't know anyone who eats four pounds of chicken a day. The USDA serving is four ounces, which is 12 servings given a pound of waste.

                                                                                                                                                                      Multi member households also have multiple versions of the coffee+scone issue.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                                        The USDA can kiss my ass. With all due respect. If you know any family of 12 who dines on one scrawny chicken, that makes me very sad.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                          The only person who mentioned a family of twelve is you. Also with all due respect.

                                                                                                                                                                          If advice must apply equally well to all three hundred million people in the US, then there is no possible advice to be made on any topic. If the standard is that would work well for a large number, then eating less processed and restaurant food seems reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                                            My point was just that 4 oz. is not a meal. If that's raw weight, it's not even a snack!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                              It is generally agreed that FDA 'service size' is on the small side, and needs revision. In any case 4oz (113g) is their usual serving size for raw meats.

                                                                                                                                                                              http://posc.tamu.edu/files/2012/08/l-...
                                                                                                                                                                              For a whole chicken the estimated yield is
                                                                                                                                                                              70% meat and skin, 58% meat only, less than 50% cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                              4oz, or 9-10 servings per 4lb bird makes more sense when making something like chicken and dumplings or soup, as opposed to fried chicken (where each person wants 1-2 whole pieces).

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                Do you have a citation to support "It is generally agreed that ..."? The Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) is a standard which is used to establish consistent labelling. It is only a reference number, not advice on what anyone should eat, and it is based on survey data. Some people, at some meals, will eat more and some will eat less. Even if people are on the average eating more than they did when the numbers were set, that is no reason to redefine a unit in established use.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                  This is one of several articles about making the serving sizes more realistic. I think we've even discussed it on CH.

                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/06/bus...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                    Good article, thank you. But it only convinces me that many people in the business of regulating food labels or advocating for healthier eating are in favor of revising serving sizes. I guess it depends on what is meant by "general agreement." I expect a large majority of consumers pay no attention at all to the labels, and that many of those who do are capable of interpreting the information correctly.

                                                                                                                                                                                    My own opinion is that there is not much wrong with the RACC numbers now, although there may be a few adjustments needed. I think for the unadorned meat catagory, four ounces (uncooked) is a convenient number. Anyone who wants the numbers for larger portions can easily compute them.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'll elaborate by adding that the people who are concerned about the obesity epidemic are behind this because they don't know what to do about it that would be politically acceptable. Arguing for label revisions as one way to attack the obesity problem is a way of creating the appearance that they are doing something while actually doing nothing at all.

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                                  Now that we know it's not a $4.99 chicken, 4 lbs of chicken would be $20. While I don't advocate spending $5 on a coffee at *$ spending $20 for a meal to cook for your family may be too much for some households to spend when a non organic chicken may go for less than a third of that

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                    I can get an organic chicken at Trader Joe's or Costco for under $3 per lb. If one is buying from small producers at specialty markets, I suppose one might get stuck for $4.99, but it's certainly not necessary or the norm.

                                                                                                                                                                    But I know that it's a luxury not everyone can afford even at that price.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                      Not everyone can afford a Costco membership and Trader Joe's has a very limited number of stores in this country.

                                                                                                                                                                      There are a lot of people that can't afford to buy organic, that's all I'm saying. And it's better for them to buy non organic foods and cook it at home than to buy processed foods. This was the theme of the video which I agree with.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                                                                                                        I was agreeing that not everyone can afford it.

                                                                                                                                                                        And also that $4.99 was an avoidable price point for those who can.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                                    That '12%' is some sort average across all households; it doesn't apply to every one. Some households spend a fraction of that on a personal chef, others depend on SNAP for most of their food.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                      1/6 of the overall population relies on some form of food assistance.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                        Of course it is. But the same thing is always true, so I don't see the relevance.

                                                                                                                                                                        People underestimate how difficult times were in the past. In my life I remember the great inflation of the 1970s and the big unemployments of the early 1980s before the new era of the 1990s and 2000s. Plenty of people had hard times then.

                                                                                                                                                                        I think the houshold DPI is calculated from disposable personal income for all household and dividing by number of households. The point could be made that income inequality skews this figure. But on the other hand standards of living have grown since 1960 and one percent of income buys many more calories than than 1960. People in the past not only paid more, they got less bang for their buck.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                                                                          Actually, food programs through the 70's ensured that most people had enough access to food. The 1/6 figure today doesn't have enough access to food. They rely on SNAP, WIC, charities and other sources but there is still substantial need beyond that. For example, a family of three earning $19,500 annually is considered well-off and is ineligible for assistance.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                      I think the basic premise was not that it had to be organic or free range but to not buy processed foods and to cook it yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. There's a curious religious side to Pollan's 'preaching'.

                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.religiondispatches.org/arc...
                                                                                                                                                                    "Pigging Out: What 'Radically Unkosher’ Jewish Foodies Like Michael Pollan Are Missing By JONATHAN SCHORSCH"

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not sure that his grandmother would have recognized his homecooked BBQ as food.

                                                                                                                                                                    "Indeed. Pollan devotes an entire chapter of his most recent project, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin Press HC, 2013)—more than a quarter of the book—to whole hog barbecue, reveling in details about learning from the pit masters of North Carolina, perfecting the technique of crackling (making crispy pig skin), and inaugurating his own, now-annual, pig roast tradition in the front-yard fire pit."

                                                                                                                                                                    1. "Eat Anything You Want--Just Cook It Yourself"

                                                                                                                                                                      I would just add raise, grow and kill it yourself.
                                                                                                                                                                      I think we humans are too far removed from our food sources.

                                                                                                                                                                      20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                        Unless you are raising bugs in the bathtub, that is easier done if you are wealthy enough to own property - preferably property beyond the reach of suburban zoning laws.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                          I seek your advice about turning part of my apartment into a rice paddy. I'm most interested in ensuring that my crop gets the proper amount of light, since I'm on the 5th floor of a 21-story building (I do have east-facing windows). Also, how can I best protect my downstairs neighbors? They're nice people, but they probably won't take kindly to flooding. Thanks in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                            Do you have a bathtub? That would probably work. Of course then you'd have to find some place else to keep the chickens you've been raising.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                                                                                                              How about guinea pigs on the balcony?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                                                                                                                I was planning on putting the chicken coop in the coat closet, and using the bathtub for aquaculture. But I'm open to suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                                  But those chickens won't be free range ...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                    Alright, alright. They get run of the hallway. Anyone know how to litterbox train a chicken? Are they cool with sharing said litterbox with my cat?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                                      Come ON. What about your beehives??!!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                                        Crap. Looks like I need to move the sheets & towels into the oven, which is really going to complicate my plans for growing mushrooms.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                                          Can't you grow the mushrooms in the dishwasher? Seems like the perfect dark, moist environment.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                                                                                                                            Unfortunately, that's where I've installed my mini-methane processing plant. I really wanted to do my own drilling, but the permit process was unbelievably arduous. So I settled for just getting the unrefined stuff from a local supplier and finishing it in-house. Because I believe we should get closer to the source of all the things we consume. Why stop at food? Where do you think the gas in your stove comes from? The fuel fairy?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                                Copy Lewis & Clark - camp on the Oregon coast all winter, and boil lots of sea water.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: small h

                                                                                                                                                                                          I would be concerned about them taking over the box and not allowing the cat near it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's okay, the cat will just cull out the aggressive ones. After all isn't the cat on a BARF diet?

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess I'll have to figure out how to grow vegetables in the dead of winter when it's 20 degrees outside.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                      The guest room is sunny. Our guests can just sleep on the sofa.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                    I adore bloggers who select a living subject as a pin cushion. Not.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                                                                                      A more recent blog by the same author, a review of 'Cooked'
                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.inexactchange.org/blog/201...