Now I’m Grumpy on the Huffington Post, Too!

{here’s the beginning…}

Recently, HuffPost blogger Lisa Turner offered five religiously inspired rules for eating:

1. Eat mindfully, being aware of the food and your body.
2. Eat for the purpose of nourishing your body; treat your body as a temple.
3. Eat only fresh, clean, light foods, avoiding foods that are processed or canned.
4. Eat only what you need, without overeating or binging on food.
5. Eat for the purpose of bettering yourself spiritually.As a set of rules for eating — and living — it’s hard to do better.

I disagree. I think we can do a lot better.

I have sort of a love-hate relationship with lists and rules. Part of me loves to believe that everything — even things as complicated as food and eating and living! — can be simplified down into three or five or seven rules. And part of me knows that rules, even good rules, don’t really help that much.

Who, by now, hasn’t heard No. 4 (don’t overeat) or No. 3 (avoid processed foods)?

It may surprise you to learn that the Bible itself isn’t all that keen on rules, given that so many of the people who claim to love the Bible tend to focus on, well, rules. But even St. Paul admitted that though he knew all the good rules, he couldn’t follow them. Jesus broke one rule after another to prove the point that following God was about loving other people, not getting the rules right, an ethic that’s not new to him but is in fact a theme in the Hebrew Bible.

{continue reading on the Huffington Post religion page–here!}

When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.


That’s rule #24 in Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, now out in a whimsically illustrated edition. As Laura Klein of OrganicAuthority.com points out in a recent post on the HuffPo food blog, if you follow this rule: “eat real food,” you don’t need other rules.

I love this one. Of course, it’s not really a stand-alone rule–it assumes you know what’s meant by “real food” and it assumes a food culture that supports the eating of said real food.

One example of the way our family follows this “rule” is with respect to bread. I feel that a good, fresh baguette (the kind that’s good only on the day it’s baked) is better than the kind of bread whose oxylated/ethylated-whatevers keeps it fresh for weeks–even if that kind is brown and  screams “Whole Grain!!!” while the baguette sits in its serene whiteness. The baguette is more ‘real’–no unpronounceable chemical ingredients, stales and rots quickly, and has a long tradition.

(Besides, we ate baguettes every day in France with Nora. How could the memory of that alone not imbue them with special healthfulness?)