Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yarn: Daisy Dukes--Oh, it is BROUGHT!

Well, y'all, the much-anticipated and widely discussed Boston Heat Wave of '07 (Forty degree highs! Meteorologists in a tizzy!) met with an abrupt and untimely finale yesterday when we awoke to a crispy layer of new snow over the still-unmelted varnish of ice on the sidewalks. But it left me with hope. Hope for a New Spring. I have historically been a big proponent of winter and all that is wonderful in the season, but for some reason this year I can't wait for spring. I can't wait for the farmer's market and to plant my seeds. I can't wait to wear all my impractical strappy summer shoes and my favorite skirts. I can't wait to go for runs outside without constantly being on the lookout for patches of ice. Yes, I know we've had a mild winter this year and got off easy with only one big storm (so far), but somehow, that has made me even more antsy. I'm ready to let this winter fade into memory and embrace the sun again.

And with the warm weather on the horizon, it is once again time to begin watching for that elusive and migratory beast: Campusious Hottius (a.k.a. Campus Hotties). Yes, the Engineer will soon be deluged with young hotties walking around campus pursuing such valid trades as sun bathing and too-short-skirt-wearing.
This is what I'm up against:

I am not at all intimidated by these hotties (*cough,cough*...ahem), but I do find them infinitely fascinating. Since he spends most of his days on campus, the Engineer is constantly coming home with stories of Young Hottie sightings, stories that are usually accompanied by much shaking of the head and exclamations of, "NO! You're kidding!" on my part.

Ok, I'm not exactly intimidated by them, and to any young hottie wishing to snag the Engineer, I say "You best bring it!" But still...they do know how to make a gal feel, well, decidedly uncool. It's like these young'uns are constantly saying, "Yeah, I know ugg boots are UGGly and these shorts are too tight and this skirt shows my undies, but I'm so hip that I don't care. What are you, like, twenty-five? You're too old to understand." The aura of coolness oozes from their pores and you feel it in the specific passion of their disregard.

So this year I've decided to take a pro-active approach. It's time to make uncool cool again. It's time to Bring Back the Fashion. Yes, it's time for dai
sy dukes. And not just any daisy dukes, but knitted daisy dukes:

Daisy dukes, y'all! I missed this fashion train wreck back when it was actually "popular," but I feel the time is ripe for a come-back: Knittin' Style! We're talking soft blue denim yarn. We're talking belt loops made of i-cord. Fringe of elegantly unraveled bits of yarn. Oh, how to knit those interior pockets hanging so deliciously below the hem-line? My fingers do tingleth with joy...

I think I will base my pattern on the Sweetheart Shorts from KnitPicks (click HERE), though I'll have to modify it a bit to work in the pockets. Plus I think the waist line will need to be several inches shorter--we need to make sure those belly buttons get their time to shine.

And I know you're all sitting there wondering if I'll actually model my dukes in public once finished. Alls I can say is, all you
Campusious Hottius out there? You best bring it!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wine: 2003 Mountain River Pinotage/Shiraz

2003 Mountain River Pinotage/Shiraz from South Africa ($7.99 at Trader Joe's)

I first had this wine back at our Cross-Atlantic Holiday Festivus and liked it so much that I wanted to try it again when I had a chance to really pay attention to what I was drinking. At the time of the party, the wine steward at Trader Joe's had recommended it because he felt it would pair well with the highly-spiced Portuguese and Brazilian dishes we were serving. In my vague recollections of the evening, I remember being surprised at the strength of the wine--it wasn't a bad pairing with my food, just unexpected. This time around, I'm trying the wine by itself, unpaired with any food.

In the glass: Dark and completely opaque. Ruby-lit highlights when you hold the glass up to the light

Scent: This wine smells strongly of fermentation and slightly musty--like walking through forest with a thick ground covering right before it rains. There is a definite perfume of dark berries (blackberry, cherry, and maybe currant?). The scent is powerful and forceful--even with my glass sitting next to my computer about a foot away from my nose, I can still catch a whiff of berry and pleasant mold.

Taste: Heavy and rich, almost "thick" tasting. More of that mustiness in the taste as well--I think immediately of rich cheeses like blue cheese, gorgonzola, and roquefort.
It's not an unpleasant taste, but not always one I'd want in a sipping wine. The individual berry flavors aren't as prevalent in the taste as in the smell, but the effect is still fruity. Very smooth, not a lot of tannins (that puckery flavor present in a lot of younger wines). The overall taste is quite bold. It really coats the entire tongue uniformally. There's no spiciness--it really "sits" on the tongue and lingers a long time after you swallow a mouthful.

Pairings and Culinary Uses: This would likely be a great wine to use in cooking--a nice tomato sauce, beef stew, glazes for steak and lamb. Might also be pleasant as mulled wine or sangria. I've also been reading a lot lately about making your own red wine vinegar, and it would be interesting to see this wine become vinegar and then to use it in a dressing for a salad with gorgonzola and walnuts.

I don't think I would often drink this on its own--it seems like a wine that's meant to be paired with food. However, it might be too heavy to go with the main course itself and would tend overshadow a meat-centered dish (like steak) rather than enhance it. If you want to pair it with dinner, go for highly spiced foods like Mexican or even Indian. I think this wine would be best drunk as an after-dinner wine. It would be fantastic with a cheese course or a dairy-based dessert like cheesecake, creme brulee, or custard where the flavors between the food and the wine would have a chance to play off each other and mingle.

Overall, I really like this wine. It's bold flavor is unexpected and incredibly balanced for an under-$10 bottle of wine! Because its flavor pairings aren't as versatile, it really inspires me to think of dishes it really would pair well with. It also makes me crave cheese, and cheese is always a good thing in my book.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Craft: Yarn! All I really need is Yarn! Yarn! Yarn!

Ok, first and foremost, an update on the Engineer Sweater. It's so almost done, I can taste the finished-blocked-ness of it. I am about a third of the way done with the second sleeve--the final piece of this puzzle. I made the Engineer stand still for me while I pinned the pieces onto him and checked that it was all going to come together ok. He was antsy to get back to his analyses of drag coefficients and centers of gravity, but oh no, sir. I made him stand for a full thirty seconds while a gazed adoringly at how perfectly everything fit and made little cooing sounds while stroking that symmetrical sleeve.

I am impressed, slightly amazed
, and very relieved that it looks like it will fit. In what we'll just call "A Knitter's First-Sweater Mistake," I didn't think to double-check that my gauge was accurate until, oh, I'd knit the entire front piece and half the back. When I did, I realized that my gauge had mysteriously gone from perfect (at the time I knit my swatch) to much much less perfect (at the time when I gazed in horror at my ruler, counting and re-counting my stitches-per-inch). Just imagine--your perfect pattern-matching gauge is 10 stitches per inch, but your reality-sucks gauge is actually closer to 13 stitches per inch. It might not seem like a lot, but those little 3 extra stitches add up and...well, your sweater is going to be too small. It's a terrible, terrible thing to realize, my friends. Lucky for me, the Engineer tends toward the scrawny side and the smallest size in this pattern would probably have ended up being a bit large on him anyway. I did some measurements and enlisted some nearly-forgotten math skills and decided it would *probably* be ok. What's a gal to do but knit onwards?

Now, my energy for this project has been flagging and
I have to admit that tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade the Engineer that one-sleeved sweaters are sure to be all the rage this spring season. He wasn't buying it and is demanding the second sleeve. Fine. This sweater will be finished before the swan boats return to the duck pond at Boston Garden! You're all my witnesses.

Side projects are a necessary and healthy part of any long term project. I give you, the Nose Warmer. I'm knitting two of these handsome warmers for a friend of mine and his son. They knit up quickly and are a good refresher course on short-row shaping--the 'nose' is very similar to turning the heel on a sock. I just need to give these noses some whiskers and attach the head-ties, and they're ready to go warm some noses. For interested parties, the pattern is over at Knitty--click HERE.

A few weeks ago, I placed a big order for yarn from KnitPicks so I could price out the cost for making hats and scarves for Angelina over at Dustpan Ally. I am so excited to have discovered KnitPicks. I've wanted to sell my handknits ever since my family started politely insisting they had enough hats, scarves, gloves, uteruses, penguins, and other knit items to last them quite some time. (Luckily, I've made new friends since who are more than happy to volunteer for handknits. Whew!) But the biggest obstacle to selling handknits is that it's rilly not cost-effective. Yarn is expensive! To recoup both the cost of the yarn and a bit more for my labor, I'd be needing to sell, say, a basic hat for at least $30 to the retailer, and the retailer would then need to mark it up again to make their money. So we're looking at a $50 or $60 handknit ski hat. Loony bins. Who would buy that?

Enter Knitpicks. Their yarn is affordable, very good quality, and available in a lot of different colors, fibers, and weights. It's pretty uniform, so if you're looking for the subtle beauty of hand-dyed or the unique texture of hand-spun, you're not going to find it here. But the yarn is dependable and good. My hope is that I can have a good base of these low-cost goods and eventually have clientele who would want and be able to afford handknits with more luxury yarns. I also hope that if all goes well with selling hats and scarves at Dustpan Ally, craft fairs, and the like, I can also start knitting larger, uniquely designed patterns like sweaters and bags.

For this initial, reality-based trial, I ordered a bunch of skeins of Wool of the Andes--a 100% Peruvian wool. For kicks, I also ordered a few skeins of Andean Silk--a blend of alpaca, silk, and merino wool. It was a bit more expensive, but I was worried that the Wool of the Andes might be too scratchy when knit and wanted to test out a different blend. (Update: I think Wool of the Andes will work just fine. A bit rough, but not at all "grandma sweater" scratchy. No offense, grandmothers out there. But still, you know what I mean.) I chose several colors that I will love to knit with (it's important to love what you're knitting) and that also will blend well together if I want to do any patterns: black, moss green, burgundy, dark blue, and cloud blue. I'm also going to play around with felted flowers, so I got a few skeins in pink, yellow, and orange.

With the scarves, I want to try different stitch patterns and play around with mixing stripes of different colors. One idea to make it a bit more interesting is to weave a strip or two of ribbon down the length of the scarf to add detail and texture. The hats could also have some felted embellishments sewn along the length. I'd like the stocking caps to resemble flapper hats. The felted flowers would be added as removable brooches over the ear, and I'd like to weave ribbon through the brims on a few of the hats by knitting a button-hole eyelets about one inch from the bottom of the hat. I have a couple other ideas for making these otherwise ordinary handknits unique and exciting, but I'm going to wait to talk about them until they're more solid in my head. I'm also planning on selling these under the name "My Three Loves" so am brainstorming ways to combine these loves of mine into a nice little package. Cuz otherwise it would just be kinda confusing and would be better to just sell them under my name. Any thoughts?

And last but not least, just when I thought my week couldn't get any better, I get this lovely package from Angelina.
Months ago, I started coveting her canned goods after a particularly scrumptious post she wrote on canning pears in vanilla syrup. I begged and pleaded and made a nuisance of myself, but Angelina eventually took pity on me and agreed to an exchange of goods: A jar of gorgeous pears in exchange for a comfy scarf done in the style of my laptop cozy. Angelina, the yarn is gorgeous. I stroked it for a full fifteen minutes and daydreamed about what a beautiful scarf it will make. You'll all be happy to know that I've perfected my bubble-making technique since the laptop cozy, and think I've got it down to a science. A full-on felting like I did for the cozy might make this yarn too stiff for a scarf, so I'm going to experiment with some light felting to try and get a fabric that is still supple and scarf-able. Oh, boy I can't wait!

Also can't wait to break into these pears. They have held a place of honor on my counter since their arrival and it makes my mouth water just looking at them.
I have considered and discarded half a dozen different recipes, still looking for just the right one. My most recent thought and the one I think I will ultimately do is a pear tartlet for the Engineer and I. We're celebrating a faux-Valentine's day dinner sometime in the near future (a.k.a. an excuse to go to the fancy grocery store and buy fancy foods!), and I think a pear tartlet would go quite nicely. Or I could just eat them straight from the jar with a spoon while standing at the counter in my pyjamas. That sounds good too.

By the way, if you haven't already discovered it, please do stop by Angelina's store, Dustpan Ally, and check out all the wonderful things she's got going on over there. The actual, real-life store is in McMinnville, Oregon, but if you don't happen to be in the neighborhood, you can also order off the web at Angelina is an amazing and creative woman, and I could buy everything in her store in a heartbeat.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Books: When Things Fall Apart

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
by Pema Chodron

When Things Fall Apart doesn't hold the answers with a capital "A" or preach dogma or threaten consequences if certain instructions aren't followed to the letter. It quietly and non-aggressively suggests an alternative way of thinking and living. This way of thinking has to do with being gentle with yourself and being gentle with whatever situation is throwing you off-balance--whether that situation is as mountainous as the death of a loved one or as quotidian as a rough commute to work. Pema Chodron draws from traditional Buddhist teachings to lay out some essential principles for living in our chaotic and changing world.


My mother gave me a copy of this book years ago. She told me very matter-of-factly that it helped her through one of the worst depressions in her life, had changed the way she thought of herself and the way she lived, and that I should read it at some point. I have dutifully carted it around with me back and forth every semester in college, hauled it out to Portland, and shuffled it back across the country when I moved to Boston. It sat on my shelf beside the other "good for you" books (like What Color Is Your Parachute) that I knew I should probably read at some point. I picked it up a few times, but never really got much further than a few chapters. And
like the good little English major I once was, sentences here or there are dutifully underlined and marked with stars and little margin notes. But something always came up, or I got bored, or another more exciting book showed up at the library, and I never got around to finishing it. My mom never asked about it. I think she knew--as I understand now--that it's a book you have to be ready for. You have to be open to what Pema Chodron is saying and be willing to listen. I just needed to know it was there and that when the time was right, I would read what it had to say.

I found myself in this place this past winter. My work at the Noodle Factory was distinctly lacking in compassionate mindfulness and the Engineer was stressed out with finals and the weather was completely baffling (being both unseasonably warm and also dismally dark) and I was stressed out with money and with that age-old question "How the hell did I get here and where the hell do I think I'm going?" I decided to take When Things Fall Apart to work with me and read
one single chapter every morning before turning on my computer and while the entire office was still empty and silent. An empty office building is a different world and, I found, strangely conducive to meditation. And one chapter from this book is certainly not a bad way to start the day.

At root, the book is about being mindful--mindfulness being the act of being aware and honest and compassionate about what is going on around you and what is going on inside of you and what part you are playing in all of this. Chodron talks about disassociating ideas of "right" and "wrong" with the feelings, emotions, and reactions we are experiencing, and instead just accepting them as a part of the human experience and letting them go. We feel pain and fear when we cling too tightly to our idea of how things ought to be, and Chodron explains that the only way to deal with this pain is to experience it fully and to see it as an opportunity to learn something.

Up until I read this book, much of the Buddhist teachings I have encountered tend to feel a bit inaccessible and all too mysterious to an ordinary person. What's all this double-think of suffering leading to happiness and letting it all go in order to have it all? Why should I embrace hopelessness when what I really want is to feel love and happiness? Like a math equation, so much of Buddhist thinking seems to cancel itself out. This impression was probably a big factor in why it took me so long to get around to reading this book. I often think, "Oh, yeah, sure--if I were living in a monastery without worrying about how I'm going to pay rent and take care of my family and feed myself, I'm sure I could reach enlightenment too!" In the real world, things can seem a bit more complicated. Or at least insurmountable.

But one of the best aspects of this book is how grounded it stays in the real world. Perhaps because she came to Buddhism late in her life and after a difficult divorce, Chodron maintains a strong connection to the real world of bills, broken hearts, and public transit woes in her writing. This makes When Things Fall Apart accessible and understandable in a way
that no other other text has approached. And yet, don't think that Chodron's explanations are so basic and pedantic that you can just breeze through your daily lesson of compassion and mindfulness and open your Outlook inbox without another thought. There is still a lot of that Buddhist double-think that we Westerners find so hard to digest, enough to give your head a good spin. But as I forced myself to read slowly and think through what Chodron was saying, for the first time, I found it all starting to make a certain level of sense. Her basic messages are often relatively straightforward, but the meaning and layers beneath the message may require several re-readings before the subtleties are understood. Often I felt that I grasped the concept for just an instant before it slid away from me, but in a true model of Buddhist patience, I tried not to struggle to regain the understanding and instead imagined it sinking into a little storage container to be examined later.

Some of the accessibility of this book and her other writings also comes from the fact that Pema Chodron is American and a native English speaker. Unlike other Buddhist masters who are well-known in the United States (like Thich Nhat Hahn and
the Dalai Lama), Pema Chodron "speaks" the American culture and language. Since she also had to teach herself how to "think Buddhist," she understands the struggle this presents for the typical Westerner dealing with typical Western dilemmas. Pema Chodron is able to present these Buddhist teachings in a way that makes sense to her American audience and also retains the strength of the original wisdom. Her voice is personal and conversational, as if she's sitting on the couch next to you sharing a cup of tea. Her elegant writing is broken into bite-sized chapters that each focus on one simply-stated message, each able to be read in a sitting.

This is not a book that tries to convince you to become a Buddhist or that this is the only way you will ever be happy. Rather, When Things Fall Apart meets you where you are without judgment or marketing. It's a book to read slowly and carefully, while the office is empty and you have time to close your eyes, lean back in your chair, and take a few deep breaths before you start your day. And when you get to the final chapter and find you've only grasped a fragment of what you read, what's to do but start over at the beginning and read it all again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Departing from the norm...

I debated for a long time before writing this post. I might yet chicken out and not actually post it. So far on my little blog, I've pretty deliberately stayed away from the really personal posts. I didn't want (and still don't want) this blog to turn into my online journal. Also, I have a hard time letting my guard down and telling people what's really going on with me. I always have to make jokes, be witty, make light of things, pretend that I'm stronger than I feel I am so that no one worries about me. I don't like feeling vulnerable. And I despise whiners. Especially whiners who don't realize they're whining or try to do anything to change what they're whining about. I don't want to be a whiner.

But here's the thing--I feel really...bummy. Bummy is both the perfect way to describe how I feel and also completely inadequate. I feel bummy in the way that I fully, objectively, rationally understand things aren't really so bad--things are pretty darn good, actually, if I were to tally everything up--but I've just felt a base level of...well, blue-ness. For a while now. Like a sine wave of ups and downs, and the average is just...bummy. Unexplainable. Or maybe very obviously explainable. But in either case, I feel like I might burst into tears at any random moment.

All right. I'm a list-making kind of gal, so do that tally. Here are all the fun, wonderful, inspiring, exciting, awesome things going on:

  • Things on the romantic front with the Engineer are wonderful. And in fact...
  • A few months ago, the Engineer and I decided to get hitched (glee!)
  • I'm loving my blog and am constantly inspired to do new posts.
  • It feels really really good and very right to be doing some form of creative writing again.
  • After a lot of personal work, patience, and perseverance, things at the Noodle Factory ( a.k.a. my job) finally feel like they're taking a turn for the better.
  • I have so many knitting projects I'm dying to do that I've been looking into getting a third arm. Though I guess I'd need a fourth arm too, since you need two arms in order to knit.
  • I recently talked to Angelina over at Dustpan Alley and we're going to try selling some of my hand-knits in her store.
  • After 6 months of not taking sleep medication and struggling with insomnia, I'm finally (and more-or-less consistently) getting a solid 7 hours of good sleep a night.
  • I'm going to an info session at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts tonight to get some more details on their Professional Chef program, which I've 99% decided I'm going to start doing in the Fall.
  • Tomorrow, I'm meeting with a food writer who I contacted through a local writing program (the actual food writing class was cancelled, but that's on the list of bummy things), and am really excited to talk with her about the wily world of freelance food writing.
  • For the first time in my life, I can jog for 6 miles straight.
  • I'm really happy with my weight right now--something that's been a big challenge and source of stress ever since my teenage metabolism abandoned me.

Ok, I think those are the highlights. So here are some of the things stressing me out:

  • Feeling like I've got too many balls in the air--but feeling like the not-fun things are balls that I can't eliminate and the fun things I don't WANT to eliminate because they make the not-fun things bearable.
  • Even though things are better at the Noodle Factory, it's been a long haul and will continue to be a long haul and I'm tired.
  • I've been snarky at the Engineer lately and that makes me feel guilty even though when I apologize, he gives me a kiss on the forehead and tells me not to worry.
  • The food writing class that I was really looking forward to was cancelled.
  • While getting married and planning a wedding is fun, I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure everyone is happy with how everything is going (my parents, the Engineer's parents, the Engineer, our friends and family, all of whom may or may not get invited and may or may not be offended by that). I feel very anxious when I know someone out there isn't happy with me or the way I'm doing something. It makes me want to elope. Except I still want a pretty dress and a party. (See, there's the joking to cover up how stressed and anxious this really makes me.)
  • I feel like everyone looks to me to be the strong one and I'd like to take a break. (saying that made me start crying a little)
  • Money is really tight--not "Kraft Mac n' Cheese for dinner every night" tight, but tight all the same.
  • All my best shirts are getting pit stained. (again, the semi-joke)
  • Although that I'm happy with my weight and my health, I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to maintain it because I'm so terrified of losing control of it again, to the point where I worry that it's become unhealthy.
  • I worry that I drink too much.
  • It's the winter and it's bitter cold and it's dark, and I think this might have a lot more to do with the base-level of blueness than I realize.
  • I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen in two years when the Engineer graduates. And that makes me both incredibly excited and overwhelmingly anxious.

So there you have it. I could really sum my feelings up (and all my longhand journal entries of late) by saying that I feel stuck. Or maybe trapped is a better way of saying it. Well, honestly? I feel like I am in the grips of something beyond my control. I feel that I've been working my whole life toward this--this moment, this time, this life--and now things are in motion beyond my control. And I'm terrified.

This gets complicated in my head, so bear with me. My idea of perfection is not what you might think. My definition of perfect is more of the Buddhist idea of being groundless--of knowing that as soon as you think you're on firm ground, the ground is removed from you. And also the idea of open expectation--if you don't try to control everything that happens to you, you are ready for anything, ready to take whatever opportunities arise, ready to listen to your heart and your spirit. And compassion for yourself. Understanding that mistakes and slip-ups are all a part of learning, and therefore mistakes and slip-ups are a part of being perfect by this definition. In fact, by my definition, making no mistakes and behaving socially perfectly is, well, imperfect.

So it's ironic, isn't it? Here I am, completely groundless. Hurtling through space. Being pulled along toward this future destination in which I am just a simple passenger trying to make sense of the scenery. Objectively terrific things happening all around me. All the seeds I have sown by being open and ready and listening to where my heart was leading me are now all coming to fruition. And I'm absolutely terrified. I feel completely unprepared. Maybe I never really expected it to work--all that Buddhist and spiritual mumbo jumbo I've eaten like manna for the past twenty-seven years. All I can think about is how I can reach normalcy again. How I can get the ground under my feet and rest for a little while. How I'd like a break from constantly thinking and analyzing and never letting myself give in to being petty or uncompassionate or lazy or human. It's exhausting.

I don't know. I don't have a solution here. Maybe that's the point that I'm supposed to learn. Maybe that's the cosmic joke--"Ha ha ha, Emma! You thought you were doing soooo well! You thought you were sooo enlightened! Ms. High and Mighty. Well, try THIS on for size!" Having written this, I still feel just as bummy and blue as before--though I admit that I do feel better for having written it and confessed to my spiritual hypocrisy. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions and hugs. I've been carrying this alone for a long time, never quite managing to get it said out loud. I don't know if I've really done a good job of explaining what exactly is going on in my head, but if I waited until I had everything perfectly (!!!) thought out and reasoned, well, I wouldn't need to write this post anymore, would I?

Angelina--thank you for inspiring me to write this post. It's reading your blog that gave me the courage to be honest with my friends and myself. And also realizing that writing something like this (which people other than myself will see) can actually be really healthy and therapeutic. We humans--sometimes our thinking gets stuck in circles and we need other people to sort us out, eh?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Knitting News: Nuns Flee Knitting Debt!

This shouldn't be so funny...but it is:

Nuns Flee Debt
Volos, Greece
An entire convent of Greek Orthodox nuns has fled to another convent to avoid paying close to $1 million in debt from their failed knitting business. The 55 nuns splurged on purchases of industrial knitting machines and by attending foreign fashion shows to get ideas for patterns. The wool clothes they made were popular in Greece, but the business went under when a bank called in the loan. The nuns are now holed up in a convent in Volos, as the Holy Synod negotiates with the bank on their behalf. (Quoted from The Week magazine)
Here's the link to an entire news article on this breaking news:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Food News: UnHappy Meals by Michael Pollan

"The story of how the most basic questions about what to eat ever got so complicated reveals a great deal about the institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutritional science and — ahem — journalism, three parties that stand to gain much from widespread confusion surrounding what is, after all, the most elemental question an omnivore confronts. Humans deciding what to eat without expert help — something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees — is seriously unprofitable if you’re a food company, distinctly risky if you’re a nutritionist and just plain boring if you’re a newspaper editor or journalist. (Or, for that matter, an eater. Who wants to hear, yet again, “Eat more fruits and vegetables”?) And so, like a large gray fog, a great Conspiracy of Confusion has gathered around the simplest questions of nutrition — much to the advantage of everybody involved. Except perhaps the ostensible beneficiary of all this nutritional expertise and advice: us, and our health and happiness as eaters."

I highly recommend taking a look at "Unhappy Meals" by Michael Pollan, published in the New York Times last weekend--to link to the article, click HERE. The article is super long, but well worth the read. Just the first page is a trove of information and revelation in itself. Michael Pollan is the author of Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma, and he is rapidly becoming a spokesperson for a new (or rather very very old) school of thought regarding our human consumption and enjoyment of food. He advocates eating "real" food that comes from sources you can trust and using your common sense to guide your food choices. His writing is part history lesson, part scientific research, and the rest is just darn good prose.

The NYTimes sends articles to "subscribers only" archives pretty quickly, so if the link to the article is down, shoot me an e-mail and I'll send you the full text.