05 January 2009

food matters

Common wisdom is often an oxymoron. Here's an example: "Never trust a skinny chef." I can't stand that saying. Why? Because it's total BS. Wouldn't you expect someone with a discerning palate to eat only the good stuff and not everything in sight?

I love to eat. And while I'm not a chef, I'm a decent cook and know really good food when I see it, smell it, taste it. I'm also pretty particular about what I consume. There are several reasons for this which break down into the categories of nutrition, ethical treatment of animals, and environmental impact.

So of course I'm excited about the latest book to tout responsible, wholesome, and delicious eating: Mark Bittman's Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes. Bittman is one of my favorite foodies. He cooks simply with quality ingredients and over the past few years has really awakened to the horrendous state of this country's food industry and what it's doing to our bodies, planet, and pocketbooks.

Here's a bit of a review by Slate's Laura Miller:

For Bittman personally, the moment of truth was twofold. At 57, he'd gained 50 pounds over his college weight and had developed high cholesterol, high blood sugar (especially scary for someone with a family history of diabetes) and sleep apnea, a condition caused by his excess weight. At the same time, as a food writer he could no longer ignore his "increasing disgust with the way most meat is grown in this country." The lives of factory-farmed livestock can only be characterized as "misery," and the resulting meat and dairy products are full of nutritionally dubious additives like hormones and antibiotics (which in turn wind up in the water supply, further damaging everyone's health).

With a colleague, Kerri Conan, Bittman devised a plan they called "vegan until six." They ate almost no animal products at all until dinnertime, no simple carbohydrates and no junk food. (Simple carbs are sugars, white flours and other processed grains like white rice.) At dinner, they ate as they had before, although in time Bittman found that even his evening meals came to include more "vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains and less meat, sugar, junk food, and overrefined carbohydrates." It was easy, and in a matter of months he'd lost 35 pounds, lowered his cholesterol and blood sugar, and had no trouble sleeping through the night. Most important, he continues to eat this way and is content to do so for the rest of his life.

Read the rest.
I've pretty much adopted this way of eating already without giving it a name, but the idea of "vegan until six" seems fairly simple to me. Cutting out meat or reducing your intake is an easy way to significantly improve health and at the same time reduce your carbon footprint.

According to Miller, Bittman readily acknowledges the influence of Michael Pollan and his mantra"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," in the creation of this manifesto/eating guide/cookbook.

A culinary writer who promotes conscious eating and is helping people how to adopt the lifestyle for themselves -- now, that's a skinny chef I can trust.

your right to be beautiful

The dry air of the winter months saps my already combination skin of all its moisture. So a couple of weeks ago I thought it was time to up the ante on my facial moisturizer. I was all set to get some delicious product from suki-- one of the best earth-friendly beauty care regimens out there. But when I got to the shop (Organic Avenue on the LES) the saleswoman led me astray.

I'd seen this product before on their shelves and didn't even think twice about buying it. When you get a look at the super-kitschy packaging you'll understand why:

Yep, that's it -- Your Right To Be Beautiful. Reminds of those Pearl Cream ads from the early 80s. But she told me to ignore the packaging, the stuff really works. I tested a bit and was sold. Light yet really creamy with the not-too-overwhelming sweet scent of coconut and almond. Even my boyfriend approved (and he hates scented products). And I read the ingredients -- no petroleum, no parabens, none of the bad stuff, just nourishing plant derived oils and extracts.

Turns out the woman who created the stuff, Tonya Zavasta, is the one whose face graces the box. And it also happens that she's built a little raw food empire for herself. I'd say it's working out for her. She's nearly 50 and looks pretty comfortable in camel pose.

Learn more about Tonya's methods for staying healthy and beautiful at any age.

Your Right to Be Beautiful: How to Halt the Train of Aging and Meet the Most Beautiful You by Tonya Zavasta

Or visit her site, Beautiful on Raw.