The Real Food Dilemma

I haven’t had time in the past week to talk about the Michael Pollan lecture. Mostly, I think, because it’s wasn’t actually that inspiring. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, he just didn’t say much of anything new. The brief hour started with Pollan reading an excerpt from In Defense of Food, then being interviewed by CBC’s Matt Galloway. His answers were informative, articulate and witty, but it felt very much as if he’d done it all a hundred times before. And of course, he had. Disappointingly, there was no audience Q&A, so anyone who had questions for the author had to stand in line for an autograph, and I’m told, was rushed through pretty quickly.

The following day, there was an interview with Pollan in the Toronto Star in which he pretty much skewered the vegetarian community based on his three vegetarian sisters who apparently eat a lot of mock meat. I’m torn on this point between being chagrined and flipping the bird in his general direction, and nodding in agreement. During my time as a vegetarian, and even today when cooking at home, I used a lot of soy-based products to recreate comfort food dishes like cabbage rolls and sheperd’s pie. I know how processed these products are, but I’m drawn into the trap of it being easier than coming up with a straight-up vegetarian dish, especially when trying to include protein. On the other hand, I really like my rule of no meat at home, because my job has me out a couple of times a week stuffing my face with everything from chicken wings to foie gras. I don’t need more meat in my diet, and relying on the protein in eggs and peanut butter gets tired really fast.

The desire to eat “real food” has left me with a bit of a conundrum.

The other issue with Pollan is this so-called manifesto. I hate lists of rules and regulations like this, because there’s always so many exceptions, and people either try to live by them devotedly and feel guilty (or make excuses) when they can’t; i.e. The Hundred Mile Diet. So while I agree that we should be paying more for better quality food, the rule about not eating alone is just asinine.

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