Food Rules with Michael Pollan

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Many cultures have passed down all kinds of wisdom about food and how to eat properly. Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food wants to know your “food rules” are. Do you still follow your parents’ advice that you should eat your vegetables or clear your plate? Do you only eat organic now? What about fast-food? Are you a three meal-a-day person or a snacker? Have you developed your own "food manifesto"? Let us know what kinds of food rules you try to live by in the comments section below.


Michael Pollan

Comments [77]

Janet Zinn from Manhattan

I do not follow my parents' rules. I only eat food i like. Even when something is supposed to be good for me, I'll try to find it in something that tastes delicious rather than suffer through it. And, I'm learning to enjoy food even more as i eat when I'm hungry, learning to stop when I'm full, with no "bad" aka dangerous foods.

May. 20 2009 03:09 PM
Lisa R from NJ

When my kids were young we'd shopping and if they wanted something off the shelf, I would ask them read the first five ingredients. If they could not we'd skip the purchase. When they were older, I 'd ask them to tell me the content of the 1st five ingredients. As they could not tell me many of the polysyllabic chemicals, these items did not go into the shopping cart.

May. 20 2009 01:23 PM
Liz from South Salem NY

There are way too many "rules". Do what works best for your family. I compost, make lunch every day for my kids and husband and have done so for over 20 years. I grow some of my own food in a square foot garden set up. No fast food unless starving and on the road... And, Wendys does make a decent fish fillet. Try to eat organic but dont beat yourself up if not available and you really want to fit it into the meal plan. Cook your own food!, plan, make extra and freeze. Its a delight to spend hours on a sauce that is heated up a month later. I shop at Costco too. Its okay sometimes to buy bulk to save on fuel and extra trips to the grocer. Do what works best for you. Pressed oils are important and cannot be compromised. Identify the items that you will not compromise on and stick to your guns. Worrying over food is not healthy either, find your middle ground and be happy about the decisions you make. And screw the food police. Its your life and you should live it the way you feel is best for you and your family.

May. 14 2009 09:50 PM
Barbara from commack,New York

Other creatures shouldn't have to suffer or die just so I can eat. In other words, eat with kindness, go veggie.

May. 14 2009 08:56 PM
Diana from NJ

I agree with Jim Walsh of NYC to consider airing a discussion with researchers pro and con regarding supplements.

Personally, I've worked with nutritionists for over 30 years and would never waste my time or money on a dietician. Supplements are often needed and do work. I also eat wholesome fresh or frozen vegetables as the center point of my meal with protein OR starchy carbs as the side dish (never mixing raw and cooked foods at the same meal)- known as food combining and the simplest and healthiest way to a healthy, functioning digestive tract.

May. 14 2009 08:15 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

“Thousands of studies” prove otherwise do they? Lucky this is the 21st century, matey - I expect Jimmie Lind would've had you keel-hauled for propagating such crap, Jimmie Walsh:

Arrrrr! ;-)

May. 14 2009 07:26 PM
Lisa from Westchester

1. Eat only when you are hungry, not when you are full.

2. Eat to 80% of capacity, so you still have energy to move.

3. Stay out of the kitchen until meal time to avoid unnecessary snacking.

4. Eat close to your resting metabolic rate, to create a caloric deficit at day's end.

5. Follow the wisdom taught by Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, and Walter C. Willett.

6. Take action to protect our food sources from industrial pollution.

7. Stay away from foods with health claims.

May. 14 2009 06:29 PM
Jim Walsh from NYC

Michael Pollan perpetuates the myth that vitamin supplements 'don't work'. Informed listeners are tired of that repetitious, drab mantra. Thousands of studies and clinical outcomes prove otherwise. 'Supplements' are exactly that -- not 'primaries' as in the form of wholesome foods. Eating right is a full time job -- awareness of that fact predates Mr.Pollan's writings. I hope you would consider providing some balance by having any of the researchers or clinicians who are actively engaged in research on vitamin supplementation. I'd suggest Ray Kurzweil, who with his broad credibility in many areas knows the facts about vitamin supplementation.

May. 14 2009 06:20 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

“Micael Pollan stated in todays show that in the recent past there have been studies that show supplements have no benefits. ALL of these studies where done by The Pharmaceutical Industry that have a direct conflict of interest in the promotion of supplent sales. The supplement studies where highly flawed.”

Why, those devilishly cunning scheming blackguar...

Err... hmm.


May. 14 2009 04:50 PM
JP from The Garden State

John C from Ocean Grove ,NJ,

How come vitamin companies don’t want to be regulated so that they cant just make any benefit claims they want and have to actually tell and prove what’s in the bottle? Please don’t give the standard cop out answer that anything regulated is a government conspiracy. What’s the real reason? Why are vitamin companies scared to print the truth on their labels?

May. 14 2009 01:57 PM
JP from The Garden State

lisa from park slope,

It’s JP, not Suzanne.

Obviously neither do you. Show me the independent long term (10 years or more) lavatory results on a large (10000 or more people) diverse (people from all economic backgrounds and health) group taking supplements done by a reputable independent lab that prove supplements work? You can’t because there has never been such a large study done that has shown supplements will do anything for your health in the short or long term. And yes I have taken vitamins for long periods of time and they did absolutely nothing.

May. 14 2009 01:49 PM
John C from Ocean Grove ,NJ

1) Michael Pollan claims in todays show you can get all the nutrients (vitamins,Minerals, Etc.)the body needs out of eating a whole diet. This is a scientifically FALSE statement. The soils are mineraly depleted after growing crops on them for over 100 years. Our environment is so toxic from the last 50 years of chemicals that the body needs additional nutrients found in supplements to clean and detoxify. After your body has had less then optimal amounts of minerals for many years of a bad diet it can take as long as 1-5 years to remineralize your bones and body.

2) Micael Pollan stated in todays show that in the recent past there have been studies that show supplements have no benefits. ALL of these studies where done by The Pharmaceutical Industry that have a direct conflict of interest in the promotion of supplent sales. The supplement studies where highly flawed.
The studies used synthetic supplents in the improper doses and where conducted by doctors who received direct payments from The Pharmaceutical Industry.

There are literally thousands of studies that demonstrate the direct benefit of supplementation. I have also worked directly with thousands of individuals who changed there lives through proper supplementation.

The Media will never show this research because of advertising revenue
that could be at stake if one counters The Pharmeaceutical Industry.

Michael Pollan is a coward and is a self promoter. Somehow he has ordained himself as a righteous trail blazer. Michael Pollan will never respond to the above correct information because he can not refute the preceding facts.

Leonard should have had a counter point of another guest to refute Michael Pollan.

Everyone having a Loving a Compassionate day, you deserve it.

John C

May. 14 2009 01:36 PM
lisa from park slope

Suzanne you have clever theory but obviously no nutritional education or personal hands on experience in this area.

May. 14 2009 01:33 PM
Sandy from Astoria

My food rules?
It should be pretty (lots of color & texture)
It should be fun to make (the work makes it taste better)
Cook for friends whenever possible
Think closely about how a food makes you feel afterward. If the answer is not great, that food is not great

And now I'm adding the rule of only shopping the outside of the supermarket.

Great interview.

May. 14 2009 01:15 PM
mozo from nyc

Thanks, Amy. Great comment.

I think the sad truth regarding American eating habits is that fast food is so readily available. There is no real alternative if you are on the go outside the cities. I'm currently in Florida for work and everyone thinks I'm crazy for making and bringing lunch with me. "Why don't you get a $5 Foot-Long? It's cheap and good!"

I politely don't respond.

Food education is, suprisingly, needed for many people in the U.S. as well.

May. 14 2009 01:01 PM
lisa from park slope

ps- I do not eat red meat, have allergies to many foods and sensitivities to gluten for example... Thank God for my B Complex, multi-minerals and omego oil supplements I feel so much better!

May. 14 2009 01:01 PM
JP from The Garden State

51 SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side ,

You don’t need science to prove vitamin supplements are bunk. You just need common sense. If supplements worked then by default, fortified foods should work as well if not better then supplements. So according to Capt N’ Crunch, if I eat four bowls of Capt N’ Crunch a day, I should be the healthiest kid on the block, right? Not that easy…. If supplements worked, (no matter how they are made) then why can’t I just take vitamin supplements and water? Again, not that easy.

Remember, supplement companies can make all the claims they want about what is in their product and what it does for you and how well it works and nobody can stop them unless people die or get really sick from using their product. No other product you buy in the store has that autonomy to dupe the consumer as much as the supplement industry. Not even the folks down the cleaning products isle…

May. 14 2009 12:59 PM
Kimberly Haas from Philadelphia

I have read all of Michael Pollan's food books--The Botany of Desire, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food and I generally agree with his views.

However, he extols the Asian and Mediterranean diets (the latter I actually follow as it's my ethnic background and I grew up eating that way) in a knee-jerk and simplistic way. On the one hand he promotes more vegetables and whole grains; on the other, most Asians eat refined white rice and most southern Europeans eat bread and pasta made from refined white flour.

Why have I never heard him address this dichotomy?

May. 14 2009 12:55 PM

Suki from Williamsburg:
Teh Weston A Price Foundation considers superfoods such as:

good cod liver oil (brands on their website)
nutritional yeast
wheat germ oil
high vitamin butter (yellow from pastured cows)

here's the list:

May. 14 2009 12:50 PM
db from nyc

Sorry folks, the science says the supplements do not work... for your mind, body or force field!

May. 14 2009 12:46 PM

jean from manhattan - you know in France they have gouter after school - a tartine (bread and butter) or some other healthy snack. In England it's tea time (cuke sandwiches, etc.)

May. 14 2009 12:41 PM
lisa from park slope

It is INACCURATE and MISLEADING to make a statement that ALL supplements do not ( ever) work-

There are high quality synergistic formulas available and I am a testament to their effectiveness.

With the guidance of a holistic health practitioner I have been able to heal major respiratory, hormonal,and energy issues without going to an MD.

May. 14 2009 12:41 PM
db from nyc

"... people watch it and then complain they don't have time to cook".

Classically American. Genius observation.

May. 14 2009 12:41 PM
michelle from brooklyn

I heart Michael Pollan!
He keeps it real.

May. 14 2009 12:40 PM
Dan Kulkosky from New York

Oats at 79 cents a pound? Please tell me where.

May. 14 2009 12:39 PM
JP from The Garden State

Local is good but is it possible everywhere in this country? How do you grow enough local food in say Las Vegas, in the middle of the desert without any irrigation?

May. 14 2009 12:39 PM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Michael Pollan you know nothing about vitamin supplements. You can not eat enough spinach, orange juice or wheat grass to get the necessary vitamin benefit. Also unless you only eat vegetables that you personally pull out of the ground or pick, you won't get the total nutritional benefit. Vegetables available in the store have been picked green or transported for days and the natural nutritional value is less if not gone.

May. 14 2009 12:38 PM

rats ate cereal and the box they were in - they did better on the box!

May. 14 2009 12:38 PM
PL Hayes from Aberystwyth

Absolutely spot on. Nutritionists (as opposed to dieticians), superfoods, vitamin supplements... pure marketing gimmickry often descending to the level of quackery.

May. 14 2009 12:38 PM
ch from NJ

I'm a big fan of yours, Michael Pollan, but I have to say that it does not help the discourse to come out with such a blanket and unscientific statement as "supplements don't work."

May. 14 2009 12:38 PM
db from nyc

One word:

Vegan-ism is not a diet, it's a cult!

Oops, more than one word...

May. 14 2009 12:38 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I don't exactly disagree w/Hannah Springer's [6] last comment (that good food should cost more), but I do think it causes problems for people who can't afford to spend much today to prevent health problems tomorrow.

The "elitism" perception that Alice Waters was asked about is part of the problem.
Eating organic/natural foods is being promoted as a "lifestyle," & the higher prices of these foods keeps them out of reach of most people.

It seems that the less we do to food, the more it costs. Whole-grain foods cost more than refined-flour foods, organic food costs more than food grown w/pesticides & synthetic fertilizers, & food that isn't even cooked (the whole "raw food" movement) costs most of all!

May. 14 2009 12:37 PM
j from nyc

i read/heard somewhere that Hedge Funds are quietly buying up farmland around the country, including upstate New York.
Show on this Lenny?..

May. 14 2009 12:36 PM
Suki from Williamsburg

What about the super expensive whole food vitamins? Are they a sham?

May. 14 2009 12:35 PM
Lou Friedman from East Brunswick NJ

I heard Michael Pollan on your show a year ago and I went on to read a few of his books and was fascinated by it all. I am an internist who sees alot of people with chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. His books have changed how I talk with patients and counsel them on eating. I am now looking to create a nutrition program for patients as it is clear that many people have no idea how to eat a healthy diet. I am a strong believer that many of these patients would not need the medicines they are on if they could just learn to eat right.

May. 14 2009 12:33 PM
angela from middle village, ny

did you hear about the cow that escaped from a slaughterhouse in queens?

May. 14 2009 12:31 PM
JP from The Garden State

Does your guest feel that commercial farmer’s are evil and should be stopped in their tracks or are they just trying to break even on land farmed by several generations of thier family? Does your guest believe the Midwest farmer should be eliminated of the face of the map or should they be part of the solution?

May. 14 2009 12:31 PM
angela from middle village, ny

how about "fleshless fridays?"

May. 14 2009 12:30 PM
joli from Bloomfield NJ

I allow myself a fast food meal at McDonalds once every calendar month. I get my fat/salt craving satisfied and then I get gas, and remember why I don't eat fast food more than once every calendar month.

May. 14 2009 12:30 PM
Tina Bissell from Ann Arbor, Michigan

Unfortunately Italy is well on its way. I used to go almost every year and you never saw an obese teenager... now they are all over the place. There are McDonalds in most cities (admittedly with much better salads than you can get in the US versions), other US fast food chains, and Italian variants. So sad.

May. 14 2009 12:30 PM
db from nyc

Michael Pollan is the mot important thing to happen to the American diet... ever!

Thanks Michael, keep up the great work!

May. 14 2009 12:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

I did some farming on a kibbutz back in the 1970s as a volunteer. Work varied in chicken coops, on combines for cotton fields and for picking tomatoes and peanuts. Also hand picking oranges and avocados. It made me appreciate the hard work farmers do for us, but it also clarified for me that it sure wasn't for everyone to do as one's lifetime work.
And they did use a lot of pesticides and hormones back in those days. Don't know about today.

As for myself today, I am a devotee of the "Atkins diet" and eat mostly meat, eggs, cheese, some veggies, berries, and a lot foods made with Splenda as my preferred sweetener. When I keep carbohydrate intake below 60 grams a day, my weight goes down. When I increase slightly, my stomache goes up. Thanks to the Atkins, I feel relatively svelte and fit for my 62 years, IMO.

May. 14 2009 12:28 PM
Colleen D from nj

1. Moderation.

May. 14 2009 12:28 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Kill what you eat. No, I'm not contradicting Michael Pollan's 2nd rule; I'm a vegetarian myself. I'm talking about the calories. Burn off what you take in.

May. 14 2009 12:27 PM
mary from east village

I wish it were possible to have a rule that I ate nothing harvested by underpaid workers but I see that even in Union Square plenty of the poor are working for low wages

May. 14 2009 12:27 PM
db from nyc


May. 14 2009 12:27 PM
Brian from Brooklyn

f.g. cooper/U.S food Administration rules:

May. 14 2009 12:26 PM
Candis from Manhattan

Did anybody from the Obama administration approach him about Sec. of Agriculture? Just curious b/c of the petition that went around.

May. 14 2009 12:25 PM
Anne from Manhattan

Michael, after I read your book I wanted to know why the government subsidizes commodity crops (like corn) so much. And why can't they subsidize making organic food more affordable for low income families?

May. 14 2009 12:22 PM
Michael Zullo from Upper Eastside, Manhattan

We have a few simple rules for food, especially when we dine out in a restaurant:

Keep in mind that we live in Manhattan. Two restaurant rules as follows:

1. Check the restaurant's toilet. If it's unclean -- we leave.

2. Don't allow a restaurant host to seat us near a table with kids nor the toilets.

When shopping for groceries:

1. Always fresh vegetables.

2. Purchase fruits when they are in season...i.e. Apples in the Fall and Winter season, Strawberries in the Spring season. etc.

3. Fresh meat from a butcher never a supermarket.

4. Eggs and chicken at a Farmer's Market.

5. Fish at a Gourmet Grocier that has a large selection of fresh fish.

6. Always drink a lot of water.

7. No acholoc before a meal.

8. Wine at dinner.

May. 14 2009 12:21 PM
Liz from Washington Heights

1) severely limit processed foods

2) shop at the farmer's market, it's fresher and tastes better.

3) butter = love; in other words, stay true to the family cooking, which includes moderation. don't use the fake stuff. i know the effects too much butter has on me, i don't know about the ingredients being whipped into the butter substitutes.

4) the most important ingredient is love. how much love is in the canned stuff? so cook from scratch.

May. 14 2009 12:18 PM

Just this morning i rode the subway with an immigrant from Poland - an elegant woman, my neighbor, who asked why I had my suitcase - I told her i belong to a buying club where I get food directly from the farmer (amazing dairy, eggs, meat for meat-eaters, some produce) - I told her I was getting milk like the milk back home. We are both doctors' daughters - she drank raw milk by the water from the farmer in the summer - we talked the whole way about what a shock it was for her to eat - that glamorous America had such flavorless food. And how butter really tastes, and good bread, and real yogurt without additives...

May. 14 2009 12:17 PM
superf88 from

Gabrielle/18 -- wow thank you for that!

May. 14 2009 12:17 PM

Mr. Pollan's rule Don't eat food that your grandmother wouldnt recognize [or somthing like that] is annoying at best, downright anti-immigrant at worst.
My grandmother would not be able recognize an apple, as some grandmothers wouldn't know what lemongrass is.

May. 14 2009 12:14 PM
Mark T. from Somerset County, NJ

For better and worse our Somerset County, NJ town has 50% subsidized (poor) elementary students eating school lunch.

The private food vendor, , insists that it would like to offer fresh (i.e. picked w/in the previous day or two and preferably organic or natural) but that there is just no $$ to supply first rate school lunches.

As someone who believes that the ONE rule of thumb for a lifetime is good eating is to get people addicted to the deliciousness offered solely by fresh produce by age 8 -- how can we get schools and their suppliers on board --- on a day to day basis?

May. 14 2009 12:13 PM
Sam Symonds from Astoria

Michael,My grandmother used to pick me and my sisters from school in a beige cadillac and immedieately drive to stop and go for twix, slushi's doritos, and whatever. Needless to say our weights fluctuated accordingly.

I took a nutrition class in college and that taught me what i needed to know, but you are exactly right. It's about eating vegetables and less meats. Also, exercise supplements that to allow you to go to town like the good old days. Also making veges taste like meat :)

Don't assume our parents and grandparents know what's healthy though. Hostess cupcakes have been around a

May. 14 2009 12:13 PM
jean from Manhattan

I pack my kids a healthy and hearty lunch each day for school.
They eat lunch early at school - 11am or 11:30am (3rd and 6th grade).
When I pick them up at 3pm they are Famished!
Thus I always have the dilemma of fulfill their hunger prior to dinner or have them not finnish dinner.

If I have an earlier dinner, we miss the recommendation that a family should sit at the table and eat together.

What does the speaker recommend?

May. 14 2009 12:12 PM
Suki from Williamsburg

Do not eat anything that doesn't have a mom or grow from the ground.

May. 14 2009 12:08 PM
Edward D. Weinberger from Manhattan

I share the views of Carolyn Myss, who states that "You can eat cat food if your consciousness is in the right place." I take that to mean that it is far more important to look at one's "mental diet" of moment-to-moment emotional experience than to obsess about one's eating habits. A vegan ruled by negativity will make themselves and anybody around them sick.

That said, it is hard to believe that someone would consciously eat obviously unhealthy food if they had the choice.

May. 14 2009 11:49 AM
Gabrielle Langholtz from Park Slope, Bklyn

The US Govt promoted the following "food rules" during WWI
1. Buy it with thought
2. Cook it with care
3. Use less wheat and meat
4. Buy local foods
5. Serve just enough
6. Use what is left
Dont' waste it!

Still true today. Here's a link to the beautiful poster:

May. 14 2009 11:41 AM
Gerald Fnord from Boston, MA

I've often wondered to what extent health-food, veg[etari]ism, locovoraciousness, ethnic foodie-ism (of the sort that insists that the cruder the decor, the better the food _must_ be), and the like owe a lot to the 'kashrut' meme---'There is food that other people eat which we consider unsuitable for our consumption. Our avoiding this separates us from them, and (at least in the weak-minded among us) establishes ourselves as in that way superior to them. The food we won't eat is spiritually polluting.'

Note that I am not tarring all my relatives who keep kosher with the brush of the unpleasant aspects of kashrut, but I think that a lot of modern foodism either descends from kashrut or, maybe more likely, reflects a basic human susceptibility to believing oneself superior to others because of what one eats and does not.

At least my relatives have the excuse that their loving and perfect Creator cares whether they eat lobsters or not.

Note that this does not discount the possibility (and to me, likelihood) that _all_ of the variants above are superior diets to the standard Murkin food-like--product line from the point of view of health...I just have got irritated with those who use their diets as a glorifying crown.

Mr Pollan does not fall into that category (not the first good person whose fans can sometimes be obnoxious) because his approach is that of a good technologist---what is useful?, how do we know it to be useful?, how can we improve on what we know? There's a big difference between saying, 'I am better because I won't eat that junk,' and 'I am eating better because I know what's junk and why.'

May. 14 2009 11:25 AM
Tim from New York City

Eat at home. Restaurants have gotten ridiculously expensive and should be used sparingly.

May. 14 2009 11:20 AM
Sophie from Brooklyn

1) Eat foods that are colorful (naturally, not died)
2) Don't eat blue food unless they are berries or cheese

May. 14 2009 11:18 AM
bruce stasiuk from setauket, ny

my rule is that foods must be seperated . my grandfather owned a diner in the bronx, and, as a little boy, i loved eating off his divider plates, where the creamed corn never oozed onto the pickled beets.
laying a steak on top of mashed potatoes ruins both.
when i order in a restaurant, i request that the food not be architecturally stacked.

May. 14 2009 11:14 AM
suzanne from Plainfield

Michael Pollan is the boss of our household, and we follow his rules for eating (lots of veggies, whole foods, humane & sustainable, local, etc). We also eat like the French: we sit down to a table, we prepare our own meals and drink a nice bottle of wine with it. We eat what we love and we enjoy food so we never feel deprived. Food makes us happy. We have pasta at least twice a week, I eat cheese & Avocados daily & there no "bad" foods, as long as its REAL food (i.e. not highly processed).

May. 14 2009 10:50 AM
Lola from Canada

I only buy ''one-ingredient foods'': fruits & vegetables, grains (rice, pasta, couscous) and have stopped eating red meat altogether (it had started making me sick), so I only buy fish and poultry.

And when I treat myself to cookies or other ''multiple-ingredient'' foods, I will not buy anything that contains an ingredient that I don't recognize.

May. 14 2009 10:47 AM
Gabrielle from Brooklyn

how does the government and food/farm lobbies harm the food we eat? what can we do to keep our food safe?

May. 14 2009 10:16 AM
Chris from NYC

One word... Vegan.

May. 14 2009 09:40 AM
Liz from Westchester

Besides our vegetarian diet, my boyfirend and now focus on eating raw food before 5pm. Not only does raw food give you more energy during the day but it keeps us away from anything remotely processed. Working and freelancing keeps us both very busy during the day and raw food is great for being on the go.

May. 14 2009 09:27 AM
sr from NJ

I come from a community who has been vegetarian as long as at least 20 generations if not more. I personally made it a point to keep one rule constant, We as a family eat one healthy meal, which has at least one green vegetable, beans or lentils, with stone ground whole wheat bread/naan/chapati/ roti, and at least 1 cup of plain yogurt to cool down the pallet and incorporate good bacteria for digestion.And of course white rice. the rice is one area i have not been able to change our eating habits.

As far as possible, buy organic seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Yes, We as a family have not strayed too far away from our roots as far as eating habits are concerned. I do make other stuff but only as a snack or a small meal. My son is planning on college in 2010, and is learning to cook our traditional dishes. Yes i am confident, i will then have succeeded in passing on this great culinary tradition to the next generation.

May. 14 2009 09:09 AM
Jamie Leo from New York

Hoping that Leonard and Michael will discuss the Meatless Monday movement, which Michael has spoken about on several occasions.

"Foregoing meat once a week is actually a sound idea. It’s good for personal health, good for the planet, and it’s cost effective. And, while some health goals take work, this one is painless. Easy, even. At least once this week, think chickpeas instead of chicken, bean stew instead of beef steak and spaghetti sans meatballs.” – Claudia Zapata

May. 14 2009 06:41 AM
Hannah Springer from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Rules I live by:
1) real food is best -- foods should be in their whole, natural forms (i.e. whole raw dairy, meats/eggs from animals raised on pasture, produce that hasn't been sprayed or genetically modified, etc.)
2) local whenever possible
3) eat with the seasons -- this makes for a healthy body, strong immunity, ability to stay warm/cool as appropriate, and of course means best flavor and best nutrition!
4) emphasize nutrient-dense foods
5) good food should be a little pricey -- forget about chicken for 92 cents a lb! all the care and attention that goes into raising healthy animals and nourishing plants means these foods should cost more than the supermarket counterparts. We need to spend more on food so we can spend less on healthcare.

I have a blog about eating (and feeding our family) mainly local traditional foods:
My health counseling practice website is:

May. 13 2009 11:26 PM
Gabrielle Langholtz from Park Slope, Bklyn

I love Nina Planck's definition of real food in her book by that name. She says to eat foods that are old and traditional, eg butter not margarine, tofu not soy oil, and meats/eggs/dairy from animals that eat fresh grass, not corn and by-products.

May. 13 2009 10:57 PM
Gabrielle Langholtz from Park Slope, Bklyn

Wendell Berry said it best in his 1989 essay "The Pleasures of Eating." Here, pasted from that essay, are the first four or his seven rules for how city people can help farmers:

1. Participate in food production to the extent that you can. If you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a sunny window, grow something to eat in it. Make a little compost of your kitchen scraps and use it for fertilizer. Only by growing some food for yourself can you become acquainted with the beautiful energy cycle that revolves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to offal to decay, and around again. You will be fully responsible for any food that you grow for yourself, and you will know all about it. You will appreciate it fully, having known it all its life.

2. Prepare your own food. This means reviving in your own mind and life the arts of kitchen and household.

3. Learn the origins of the food you buy, and buy the food that is produced closest to your home. The idea that every locality should be, as much as possible, the source of its own food makes several kinds of sense. The locally produced food supply is the most secure, freshest, and the easiest for local consumers to know about and to influence.

4. Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener, or orchardist. All the reasons listed for the previous suggestion apply here. In addition, by such dealing you eliminate the whole pack of merchants, transporters, processors, packagers, and advertisers who thrive at the expense of both producers and consumers.

(the whole essay may be found here

May. 13 2009 10:51 PM
Jason Scorza from Teaneck, NJ

When I was still in college I developed four rules of food:

1. Food is good;
2. More food is better than less food;
3. Free food is better than food you pay for; and
4. Mushrooms are fungus (and, therefore, treif)

Today, although I am gradually evolving into an ethical omnivore, I stand by these four rules (even while I am running on the treadmill).

May. 13 2009 10:13 PM
tami berman from fair lawn, NJ

After reading Nina Planck's Real Food, then reading the Omnivore's Dilemma and finally Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories, I don't eat any refined sugars or refined carbohydrates. I don't feel deprived at all because I am lucky enough to get deliveries of raw, grass-fed, whole milk dairy products, eggs and numerous other fresh foods from an Amish farmer. The food is so rich and delicious and I have never felt better. I have always been an excersizer but always felt like I was battling the bulge around the middle. Not anymore!!!!

May. 13 2009 08:01 PM
MaryJean Hughes from Tuckahoe, NY

My 3 Rules:

Since I have a limited amount of calories that I can eat in one day my first rule is:


If I like it - I won't feel deprived and I will be emotionally satisfied. I don't want to feel like I am on a diet.
Using food as medicine, for example eating foods that are high in anti-oxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, 3.146 ounces of red wine - this is NOT the life for me!

My second rule:


No fried foods, limited red meat, limited processed foods - I can find other types of food that I like and avoid fast food and high calorie sweets.
In this way, I have eliminated some foods BUT I never eat something just because it is healthy. I hate fruit and I will not eat it :-)

My 3rd rule:


I look at food like spending money - I only have so much - so if I spend too much I will gain weight. Gaining weight is more devastating than spending too much real money - bankruptcy would be easier to deal with :-). If I exercise then I become "richer" and I have more calories that I can spend.

It's simple!

May. 13 2009 12:36 PM

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