Since this summer, when I read Michael Pollan's book
on the banks of Lake George, I've been closely following his articles on food. Indeed, I've been able to drastically change our eating and exercise habits in the past few months. (Thank you, Mr. Unemployment Check.)
I've been meaning to do a post on the two degrees of separation between Pollan and my folks. One of his interviewees was part of my parent's earthy/crunchy group from Rockland County. Maybe next week.
In yesterday's Times, Jane Brody highlights some of rules for eating well from Pollan's new book, Food Rules. His rules are perfectly fine. We should cook more, eat more vegetables, and eat less processed food. Absolutely true.
The problem with Pollan and Brody and others in that group is that they have a very poor understanding of why people eat crappy food. The solution isn't to tell people that they should eat their lima beans. People know that. They often just can't do it.
The biggest enemies to healthy eating are kids, suburbs, and two jobs.
It's really, really hard to find the time to figure out recipes and shop for fresh vegetables when there are two people working stressful jobs with long hours. Then throw kids into the mix, and it's even tougher. Shopping with a three year kid isn't for the faint of heart.
Kids are picky. I decided to make sausages and rice pilaf for dinner tonight. Jonah doesn't like sausage with the seeds in it. Got to remember that when I go the store this afternoon. Neither kid will eat the rice pilaf, because it has spinach and feta in it and because there are too many things touching each other. So, the kids will have plain rice and peas with their sausage. That took some thought to figure all that out. I still have to go to the store.
This was a meal that I made a few months ago. By the way, taking appetizing pictures of food is very hard, especially when the meal is finished after dark and you can't use natural light. Hats off to Pioneer Woman who styles her food so nicely. But I'm showing you this picture, because I had to make two meals that night for dinner. Jonah and Steve got the shrimp scampi. Ian only likes pasta with marinara sauce and won't eat shrimp. It's twice as hard to cook like this.
Tuesdays are very complicated, because Ian has a social skills class from 5:45 to 6:45, which means that dinner has to be on the table by 5:00. Sometimes Jonah has soccer practice on Tuesdays as well, which really makes things insane.
I really need to buy food on Tuesdays with multiple activities, but there are no good options. The only fast and affordable options are Wendy's, Boston Market, KFC, or Burger King. There are some good restaurants around, but they are Saturday night places, not racing to soccer practice places.
This is why people end up at the fast food counter.
If you're childless living in Manhattan, there are a ton of options for a quick, affordable, healthy meal outside your apartment. Not so much out here.
I think we could use a little less Food Rules. We need more ideas about how to eat well given these massive restrictions. For example, plan out menus on the weekends or freeze things for later in the week. We also have to figure out how to have healthy life styles that include socializing and exercise, given these same restrictions.