Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Food Rules could kill your Super Bowl Party

Michael Pollan, who Amazon.com calls “our nation's most trusted resource for food-related issues,” has been making the rounds promoting his new book "Food Rules".
I’m oversimplifying and cherry-picking, but the rules are:
• Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
• Don't eat anything with six or more ingredients
• Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can't pronounce
• Avoid foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup
• Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot...There are exceptions --- honey --- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food
• Always leave the table a little hungry
• Eat meals together, at regular meal times
• Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline
• Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
• Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant food

These rules are pretty simple, and would probably make the person following them more healthy.

But following them will also undoubtedly screw up your Super Bowl party and ensure none of your friends will EVER come back to your house for the big game.

So while plain chicken wings (who wants plain wings?), and veggie trays are fine, so many of your favorite party foods break his rules:
• No pizza—unless it’s homemade and natural
• No chips
• No ranch or French onion dip from a carton
• No brats or little smokies
• No Chex Party Mix
• No sweets
• No Velveeta and Rotel—other cheese dip is iffy

Pollan would have you only eat junk food you cook yourself. Even if you’re a gourmet, you’ll be too worn out from making bean dip by hand and baking wheat crackers to enjoy the game or the fellowship. Please note that your crackers have to be wheat because “the whiter you’re bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”

He wants meat used only to enhance flavor and condiments should be avoided.

Remember this is the guy who since the publication of his "Omnivore’s Dilemma" has promoted eating local whenever you can. In my neighborhood the only local food this time of year is meat. He has contended for a long time that eating anything made from corn is like eating crude oil. There goes the plain un-salted popcorn.

We all need to eat more veggies.

We all need to eat less processed food, but this guys’ agenda is to have us eating fresh meat and veggies coming from local growers 100% of the time.

That may be realistic in Pollan’s home state of California. It’s not very realistic for the rest of America or the rest of the world.

The food you serve for a Super Bowl party probably isn’t a good illustration of the food you will eat during the rest of the week, but it is a good illustration of the types of food that Michael Pollan would like to have banned entirely.


  1. Well even if someone feels compelled to follow these rules religiously, they won't stop you from boiling everything in your kitchen in oil!

  2. If you actually ate a healthy, fresh diet, you really wouldnt crave those smokies, nachos and gmo corn bc youd realize how bad they are for you. I dont agree w/some of Pollan's comments regarding less meat consumption...we eat a about a whole grassfed cow a year and will not be changing that, but I think the point is that we as a society are so indoctrinated to quick fast processed food that its become a detriment to our health. Folks keep stuffing themselves with vegetable oils, gmo corn, soy, etc and the research has been done that this stuff makes us sick. why not avoid it like the plague?
    And to your point that there is no fresh veg at this time of year...it takes preparation during growing season..pick/freeze fresh berries, squash, non-gmo corn, etc. Canning is cheap and easy. it just takes forethought.

  3. Telling people not to eat those things (which taste good) is the easy way out not to mention--no fun. Learn how to make them yourself, with real ingredients and you will learn to enjoy them on a whole other level. If we don't know how to cook, we're going to revert to overly processed food. Come to think of it, I do remember Pollan saying something like, "if you want to eat junk food, make it from scratch."