Food Matters

I wrote about Mark Bittman before but it was only today that I finally got his newly released book, Food Matters: a Guide to Conscious Eating. Much like Michael Pollan, to whom he often refers in the book, Mark Bittman calls us to be more conscientious of our eating habits and adopt what he calls “sane eating.” There are seven basic guidelines:

  1. Eat fewer animal products than average
  2. Eat all the plants you can manage
  3. Make legumes part of your life
  4. Whole grains beat refined carbs
  5. Snack on nuts or olives
  6. When it comes to fats, embrace olive oil
  7. Everything else is a treat, and you can have treats daily

Numbers 1 & 2 are the hardest for those in a strict meat-and-potatoes kind of diet. But you can cut down gradually, making dishes that combine meat and grains to reduce the proportion of meat. Number 7 will depend on how you feel. If you are feeling fine, losing weight and your doctor is happy, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t indulge on your daily dessert but if you are not getting the results you want, it might be better to reduce the treats.

His plan is not really a diet in a faddish sense. He doesn’t preach we must eat all organic although he admits that eating what is produced locally and in season would be best not only for us but for the environment. And this is where all this eating sanely leads to – better health for us and for the earth we live in. Bittman started becoming more conscious of his eating habits after he read a scientific report that showed that the meat industry was responsible for producing one-fifth of greenhouse gases, much more than the transportation industry. At the same time his doctor raised the red flag telling him his cholesterol and blood sugars were out of wack. By switching the proportions of animal and vegetable products, cutting junk food and prossessed food (anything with more than 5 ingredients or with ingredients with more than five syllables), he lost 15 pounds in the first month, his lab work turned out normal in the second month, and within four months he slept better than ever before, lost 35 pounds (his weight eventually stabilized) and he felt confortable and well with his new eating style.Without counting calories, nutrients, feeling hungry, or rebounding.

Makes a lot of sense to me and I do try to follow many of these tips in my daily life.

Worth a read if you feel your health is below optimal and/or you are concerned about the environment.

Check the Globe and Mail review of the book.

Javier Reverte

I came across this quotation elsewhere in this blog and decided it was a good time to re-post it:

Viajar prolonga tu vida, la llena de rostros y paisajes. Conoces hombres cobardes que deben vivir una vida valiente, y hombres valientes obligados a vivir como cobardes. “Viajar – escribió Aldoux Huxley – es descubrir que todo el mundo se equivoca. Cuando uno viaja, tus convicciones caen con tanta facilidad como las gafas; sólo que es más difícil volver a ponerlas en su sitio”.

Un largo viaje es también una suspensión en el vacío, por eso crea en ti una sensación de eternidad. Observas, como un “voyeur” impúdico, cuanto sucede a tu alrededor, y a la vez te implicas, te asombras, te estremeces, sientes la ternura de los hombres y también el temor a lo imprevisto. Te observas mientras miras fuera de ti.

Y viajar es también una forma de crear, porque retienes cuanto ves y cuanto oyes, en la memoria y en la retina, para intentar más tarde interpretarlo, como si fueras un artista, un pintor frente a los colores, frente a los rostros y las formas; un músico abierto a los sonidos, a las voces y los ritmos, o quizá y al fín, un poeta. El viaje nos convierte en seres libres; hace posible que nos veamos detenidos en el tiempo mientras el mundo corre a nuestro lado.

Y viajar es bailar, como bien dicen los Chichewas, sordo a todo aquello que no sea el son de una canción ignorada.

Javier Reverte’s  Spanish is simply beautiful. For those of you who don’t read Spanish, here’s a translation of something else he wrote for El País:

The art of travel, in any case, supposes an act of permanent humility, because you discover that you are wrong more than you could have thought. Your prejudices disappear one by one and your principles become fewer, although they become stronger in quality. A good journey is the one that changes something inside you, and that teaches you, through the eyes of others, something about yourself.

And more than anything, travel requires a good dose of humor. You have to learn to laugh, particularly at yourself. Because if you learn the value of making fun of yourself, you’ll have something to laugh at for the rest of your life.