Sunday, April 29, 2007

Get thee behind me, Fat

Thou shalt place outside thy door a vat of fat. And this shall be a sign unto the angel of heart disease to pass over thy house. Purge thy dwelling of saturated fat (polyunsaturated is OK in smallish amounts) and purify thy house. Set outside your dwelling, then, the vat of fat to signify your purity, so that you may be holy and live long in the land. - Hezekiah 12:33

It all started years ago, when I (Deb) read the book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. And now we've come to this. Quasi-biblical rituals designed to appease the diet gods. Well, that's what it looks like, anyway. What really happened is that reading Fast Food Nation caused me to give up fast food (not a big sacrifice for me) and then to become more interested in the politics of food. That led me to design my English 101 class this year around the topic, and that led to further reading and many research papers on the topic from my students.

That all led to inviting my honors English 101 class for dinner on Friday last, with the students bringing various foods, both virtuous and un-, to share around. One pair of students brought banana wontons, which required deep frying, and that led to a pan full of hot oil set outside the door to cool, which I of course promptly forgot about for a couple days. So the quasi-biblical ritual was not intentional. But there it is.

All this study of food politics has brought about, as I call it, "collateral damage" in our household. In other words, we are actually eating healthier these days. We've been especially fond of the "super foods" concept, which involves emphasizing those foods that are especially high in all kinds of invisible, magical nutrients like betacarotenes and flavonoids. They also taste good.

We're not "food nazis" by any means. But here's some recommended reading, with the warning that you may find yourself, someday soon, carefully perusing the sweet potatoes at the local farmer's market. And putting pots of oil outside your door.

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation
Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma
Michael Pollan, Unhappy Meals
Bryant and Anna Lappe, Grub

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