Michael Pollan in his new book, Food Rules, helps us figure out what we should eat and why we should not eat certain things. Some of it is common sense but with all the contradictory scientific and marketing information in the news and on the internet we do not know what to believe. The only thing we can be certain of is that we will get conflicting information. As soon as one study comes out another one will soon follow that says the opposite. (I really wanted to believe the one about cookies making you lose weight but even as someone who gets paid to make cookies I knew that was a bit of a stretch.) Michael helps us take a step back and sort through it all.
I am still in the first part of the book but my friend Janet who has finished the book told me about Rule #39 so I skipped ahead. Rule #39 states- Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. This has been my mantra for years. I only eat desserts that are homemade and not buy items with sugar that come in a factory packaged box and have a shelf life six months out. As Pollan says: There is nothing wrong with eating sweets, fried foods, pastries, even drinking soda every now and then, but food manufacturers have made eating these formerly expensive and hard-to-make treats so cheap and easy that we’re eating them every day….The same holds true for fried chicken, chips, cakes, pies, and ice cream. Enjoy these treats as often as you’re willing to prepare them—chances are good it won’t be every day.
I agree with this 110%. Not only will you not feel like baking every day since you did take the time to make it you will have a greater appreciation for it. You won’t wolf it down or let others wolf it down without savoring the flavor and really enjoying it. Packaged desserts don’t have as much flavor as something homemade. Half a box of Chip Ahoy cookies will satisfy you as much as 2 homemade cookies.
I stretch Michael’s rule a bit. If a dessert or baked good is made from a high quality local bakery then I consider it homemade. Good chocolates and artisanal ice cream are also in this category. With these “homemade” items that someone else has made I am grateful for the time and effort he or she took to make it as if I made it myself. I buy these “homemade” desserts when I want a treat or when I am short on time and need a dessert for a party. I don’t throw them indiscriminately in my basket when I am at the market. A dessert that is not made by me it has to be made with two hands- not on an assembly line with stainless steel machinery and people in hairnets.
If we keep this in mind we can be healthy and enjoy the sweet things in life. Call it more of a compromise for taste than a sacrifice. This is a good way to start the New Year.