Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More about food

Little Darling preschool children learning about making bread (click to enlarge)

Today when I went to get some bread and brownies that are made here at the Great Harvest Bread Company, I saw these adorable little ones (the short people in red caps) and their teacher learning about how bread is made. This wonderful store also offers free samples, and I walk by here every day on my way to the bus. I try really hard not to get too many free samples, but this is where the bread my husband and I both eat comes from. He likes something called "Dakota seed" and I like the whole wheat sourdough. The feeling of family is strong in the store; they know me and call me by name as a "regular."

I've discovered that Bellingham, my new home, and Boulder, my old home, have many things in common. Both have a reputation for being different in food consciousness from their surrounding towns. I got a cup of coffee and asked if the beans are free trade. My server assured me that they are and said that here in Bellingham almost every coffee shop (except for the chains like Starbucks) use free trade coffee. At the Food Co-op where I do the majority of my shopping, everything that is carried in the store is supposedly good for the environment. We have the ability to go to a farm a few miles away and pick our own apples right off the tree. Milk, cheese and yogurt are processed within a short distance of my town (mostly in Bow, WA).

All this is uppermost in my mind right now as I continue reading Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food. Right now I'm reading about how the low-fat craze actually caused people to get sicker and fatter. People followed the dietary guidelines to eat more low-fat foods, and they replaced "bad" saturated fats with polyunsaturated and trans fats. We now know that trans fats really DO make us sick. And Pollan points out that Americans didn't eat less; they just ate the same amount but added more low-fat foods. Here's a telling quote (pp. 51-52):
Play your cards right and you can even get the American Heart Association to endorse your new breakfast cereal as "heart healthy." As I write, the FDA has just signed off on a new health claim for Frito-Lay chips on the grounds that eating chips fried in polyunsaturated fats can help you reduce your consumption of saturated fats, thereby conferring blessings on your cardiovascular system. So can a notorious junk food pass through the needle eye of nutritionist logic and come out the other side looking like a health food.
I'm at the end of Part I (of three), "The Age of Nutritionism," and just beginning Part II, "The Western Diet and the Diseases of Civilization." The last part is "Getting Over Nutritionism." I'll keep you posted. But if you're interested in learning more right now, I found this very good interview on NPR with Pollan. It also has a picture of him, which interested me. He looks like he's in very good shape.


  1. We would be surprised if we knew all the things that are bad for us. The stores just keep expanding and growing with unhealthy foods too. You are lucky to have a food co-op near you. We don't have anything like that near us.

  2. Oh, DJan, you are ALL OVER it! LOVE it. And I so agree with his conclusions. I believe in REAL fats, and raw fats (as found in raw milk) to maximize health. We have a Great Harvest Bread Company here, too, but they say they don't have any organic choices. I LOVE their bread but, uh, YOU know. Is it different in your area? Do you know if they use flours from non-GMO sources? I think I'll call them right now and try and answer my own question! THANK YOU for bringing this to mind! :) Oh, and I answered YOUR question over on the 30 Day Throw Down blog.

  3. I guess, Robynn, that every GHBC is different, because we do have the organic choice. And I did find out that I can get raw milk at the Food Co-op, although I'm not much of a milk drinker and right now I'm enamoured with hemp milk, thanks to you moving me away from soy...

  4. I just saw on the news that they retested the calorie counts and nutritional information that was printed on the labels of products and found that almost 50% of them were INACCURATE. They said the FDA didn't have the resources to double check product labels for accuracy. So there you go! Even if you read labels of products, trying to be healthy, they can be wrong. Back to the farm to eat all natural, unprocessed foods is the best bet...but for some people, they don't have these resources available where they live...

  5. Another book that might interest you is Jane Goodall's "Harvest of Hope: A Guide for Mindful Eating." She presents, perhaps, a different approach. Her concern is eating in an ethical way.. and the reasons we should.

    I have enjoyed the book very much but also plan on having a look at Pollan's book. Thank you for speaking about this.

  6. DJAN!!! This just in! I called our local bakery and the manager wasn't in so....I went online and called the company. I talked to THE nicest woman who told me they have a personal relationship with ALL their growers and sign contracts stating they will only buy non-GMO grains. Isn't that awesome?! AND they are coming on board at 30 Day Throw Down as sponsors of two giveaways! They will ship from the nearest baker to your door if you aren't near a bakery. Could they BE any nicer? I'm so jazzed right now you have no idea. :) Well, maybe you do! I think I must feel like you do right before you jump out of a plane! lol

  7. I wondered how the children saw anything... they're shorter than the counter!

    It sounds wonderful! I love real food.

    For too long fat has gotten a bad rap. Fat tastes good and is a necessary part of the diet. The problem comes when we don't eat anything but the fat!

  8. I'm going to find out where the nearest GHBC
    is to me. I just came from Whole Foods and while I like the organic concept, it's sure no co-op.

    Loved the little people in the red caps!

  9. Ahem...May I know who is the guy in blue shirt? Please say hi for me. Haha!


  10. This book sounds so interesting. I think it will go on my book list right now! We agree with so much of what you said in this post. We love GHBC, but hubby is starting to bake our own bread again. Healthier, less expensive, and heavenly to smell. We are going more veggie, local when we can, and organic if we have a choice.

  11. I agree that the Lite foods and low fat foods are a waste of time and money. I object to the fact that sometimes I can't get what I want in the shops, i.e. ordinary food. I want to be the judge of what goes in my mouth. I don't like other people telling me what is good for me and what is not.
    The bread in your picture looks wonderfully gooey and I love the row of red hats, i.e. children.
    Blessings, Star


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