Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Century?

I just noticed something curious. It appears that quite unwittingly, in my last three posts, I referenced in chronological order: months, years, and a decade. I can't think of anything to write about a century, but here's the obligatory mini-post anyway.

Updates on eating new species of plants: since my last post I have eaten a lot of other familiar plants, but the exciting new one is: Quinoa. More to come...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Farewell to the Naughties

In the millennial episode of Gimme Gimme Gimme, James Dreyfus’ character wonders what the next decade is going to be called. We had the 80’s and the 90’s. What’s next? The zeroes? With a fair measure of glee, he concludes that the first decade after the millennium ought to be called the “naught-ies”. The dawn of this year marked the end of the naughties. I first came to the US in 2001. I was fresh-eyed and eager to finally be an adult. Having lived all my life until then under the protective shadow of my parents, I for the first time was making really important decisions. What I really was doing was navigating my way through a new and unfamiliar culture by a process of trial and error – a fact that I did not realize until many years later. In many areas of my life, a considerable amount of “naughtiness” took place as a result of this naiveté – most notably in the areas of finances and health.

Being a graduate student for an entire decade took its toll on my bank balance which was constantly shrinking, and on my credit card debts which grew increasingly large. Also, having easy access to highly processed and cheap food, gave me a ready excuse to desert the kitchen and abandon my culinary skills. At the end of last year, I had a considerably larger girth and was much unhealthier than I was at the beginning of my life in the US. Any number of financial advisors or doctors would have shaken their heads at me in stern and somber disapproval. The naughtiness was complete.

While at the start of the year I had vaguely resolved to abandon the “naughtiness”, I have over the past two and a half months gained a much more clear idea of what I need to do to improve the quality of my life, pocketbook, and health. While I have little control over my financial life, I am doing what I can. My health on the other hand is another matter – I have complete control over this (almost). I have been scouting for health philosophies that work for me for the past year, and I think I have finally found it in Michael Pollan’s "In Defense of Food". I recommend it and Pollan’s other book, "The Omnivore’s Dilemma" unreservedly to anyone who has an interest in learning about what they eat. Consequently, I have abandoned nutritionism, and am reverting to a diet which consists of whole foods (Pollan’s definition of whole foods does not correspond with what is popularly considered whole food), and as much of it as possible organic and GMO-free. This will of course put a substantial dent in my finances, but for the moment, I think I will try and balance that out with other expenditure.

I will not bore you all with my progress on these counts. But one of the guidelines that Pollan suggests is that people diversify their diet as much as possible in order to include as many micronutrients as possible. For example, rather than eat blueberries to get one type of antioxidant, eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables to get a number of different types of antioxidants. Pollan suggests that a good diet consists of as many species as possible. Since I don’t eat meant, this means that I will have to eat as many species of flora as possible. So, I have resolved to include half as many different species of plants in my diet as there are days in the year. I don’t know if I will be able to find 183 different kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, but I will keep you updated on my progress on what I think is a rather interesting resolution. I did not start counting species in January, so I will attempt to reach my goal between now and December 31st 2010. Right now (since March 1st), the count stands at 22 species, which I think is a good start. However, these twenty-two species include the basic elements of most of my cooking, so it probably will be slow going from here on. If you can think of novel fruits or veggies that I could experiment with, please let me know.

It finally is: Farewell to the Naughties!