Saturday, September 18, 2010

Apple on the balcony

My first bin arrived last night from Green BEAN delivery.  I was very excited.  My friend, over at my house for our traditional Friday night movies-and-wine evening, was, I think, a little amused at my delight.  But then, she eats fruits and vegetables routinely.

Everything looked so neat, packed into its little brown paper bags.  I was surprised at how small the apples and pears were, compared to the ones at the grocery store.  Maybe it's the grocery store fruits that are unnaturally huge.

I unpacked the bin, and we immediately washed and ate some of the strawberries.  Fruit doesn't normally delight me, although I don't dislike it in the way I dislike vegetables.  But ever since I started bicycling more often, my body's been sending odd, barely comprehensible signals that it would like some more natural food.  Last night I gave it strawberries, and my body immediately responded positively.  "Yes!"  was the signal I got from myself.  "Like this!  Send more like this!"

So, yes, the strawberries were just lovely.  This morning, rather than my usual rice-with-soy-sauce breakfast, I took one of the little Empire apples out on the balcony, to enjoy the September sunshine with a good book.  It was a tasty little apple, and a very pleasant start to the day.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My life as a reality show

Apparently, TLC is introducing a reality show about people with problematic eating habits, called "Freaky Eaters."

I'm actually quite curious about the science behind food preferences.  Is there something different about my brain chemistry, or my taste buds, that makes the vegetables that taste good to other people taste bad to me?  My sister doesn't like vegetables, either- could it be hereditary?  Or could it be related to our upbringing, and the way mom used to make us finish our food even when we found it unpalatable?  Is there any treatment or technique that's proven to be effective in broadening a person's palate?

Somehow, though, I have a feeling that, despite being on "the learning channel,"  this show isn't going to explore these interesting questions.  I have a feeling that it's going to be a freak show- everyone, come and stare at the man who will only eat hamburgers!  Isn't he strange?  Aren't you glad you aren't him?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peppers on the moon

At the University of Arizona, they're working on ways to feed people living away from home.  Far away.  Researchers there have designed a greenhouse that they hope could be used to grow plants on the moon or Mars, to contribute to long-term missions there.

Giacomelli said the research also could lead to plant colonization in another traditionally hostile environment -- large urban centers.
"There's great interest in providing locally grown, fresh food in cities, for growing food right where masses of people are living," Giacomelli said. "It's the idea of growing high-quality fresh food that only has to be transported very short distances. There also would be a sense of agriculture returning to the everyday lives of urban dwellers."
"I think that idea is as exciting as establishing plant colonies on the moon."

Monday, September 13, 2010

High protein, low carb, die earlier

In other shocking news, while the Atkins diet will make you lose weight, it won't make you healthier.  A nice stir-fry, even with white rice, really is better for you than a pile of steak.  Shocked?

A major study was just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine from Harvard. In approximately 85,000 women who were followed for 26 years and 45,000 men who were followed for 20 years, researchers found that all-cause mortality rates were increased in both men and women who were eating a low-carbohydrate Atkins diet based on animal protein.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sexy, sexy carrots

About a block from where I work, on a bus shelter, I pass an enormous advertisement for carrots.    Specifically, baby carrots.  As it happens, I know that in this context, the word "baby" does not mean "young," but "small."  As in, "normal carrots, cut into smaller pieces, the way you could do with ordinary carrots yourself if you cared to spend your time lovingly sculpting carrots into smaller carrots, instead of just slicing them up and eating them."  What makes baby carrots special is that, for the privilege of buying them in pre-sculpted baby carrot shapes, we get to pay just about twice as much for them.  But, hey, if that's the shape you like your carrots, it really is very time- consuming to carve them individually, so why not pay someone else to do it for you?

And why not advertise them like they were junk food?  One of the reasons we eat a lot of junk food- not the only reason, not by a long shot, but one reason- is that the advertisements make us crave it.  So it's not such a bad thing that I am seeing a huge advertisement for carrots instead of advertisements for Chee-tos.

And then there's this video, advertising carrots with sex appeal.  Sexy, sexy carrots.  But not in the way you might be thinking- full-sized carrots would be more appropriate for that.  These are sexy, sexy baby carrots.  And that makes them special.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Advice from Coach Nicole

Sparkpeople's Coach Nicole became a vegetarian without liking vegetables, and taught herself to enjoy them.  She offers her advice here.

An excerpt:
Say no to plain vegetables. One of the main reasons people don't like vegetables is because they try to eat them plain. If you're just starting out, this is one of the worst things you can do. Most people don't have the taste buds for a plate of steamed broccoli or spinach. And why should you have to suffer through that for the sake of your health? The thing I did most when I started eating healthier was put vegetables into things I already ate: broccoli mixed in with macaroni and cheese, chopped carrots mixed in with seasoned noodles or rice mixes, and frozen spinach added to a can of soup are just a few examples. This is a great way to introduce veggies into your diet, where the flavors of the other foods you eat them with help them taste better and less noticeable. Start by adding small amounts of veggies to your standard meals, and as your taste buds adapt, you can add more and more. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm in the majority.

In today's news, I learned that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vegetable-avoiders are in the majority in the United States.  Or, at least, that less than a third of Americans typically eat more than 2 fruits or more than 3 vegetables in a day.

That's definitely me.  I don't.  I sometimes put a little fruit in my lunch box, but breakfast and dinner are usually free of fruits and vegetables.

So why do Americans eat so few fruits and vegetables?

Maybe it's for the same reason I don't- because they don't taste good, and it takes an effort to make yourself eat them, when just eating food that tastes good is so much easier.  Or maybe it's because when you have been eating a lot of processed food, natural food tastes unpleasantly weird- have you noticed that?

It works the other way, too- I gave up processed food for Lent one year, and on my first trip to McDonald's after the season was over, I was surprised at how I could taste the chemistry in my McNuggets in a way I never had before.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Green BEAN Delivery

Step one to learning to appreciate vegetables would seem to be obtaining vegetables.  So I've subscribed to Green BEAN Delivery, which promises to deliver organic, locally-grown fruits and vegetables to my home regularly.  I chose the every-other-week delivery, and today, I got my first list of things to be delivered next Friday.

I actually do care about the organic, locally-grown bit.  I know that one person doesn't make much difference, but then again, my choices influence the choices of the people around me, and from what I've read from Michael Pollan, the world really would be a better place if more people did what I'm trying to do, and ate food that came from the ground nearby, rather than food that comes in heavily processed forms from halfway across the world.

Here's the list: I'm just starting to work on a menu based on incorporating these into my food in ways I'm willing to try.

1 bunch carrots
4 Empire apples
1 leaf lettuce
1 pound of green beans
3 red Bartlett pears
24 ounces of fingerling potatoes
16 ounces of strawberries
16-20 ounces of yellow slicer tomatoes

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Vegetables are disgusting, for the most part.  I rarely eat them.  In fact, I think I can honestly say that the only vegetables I eat and like are corn, potatoes, and acorn squash.  And I'm pretty sure that those first two don't count as vegetables.  If I have to, I can just about choke down a carrot.  Even the smell of cabbage or beans make me feel like being sick.

Is this a problem?  I feel fine.  Whatever benefits people who eat vegetables have, I'm not missing them, like a person blind from birth, because I don't think I've ever had them.  But it's awkward socially, isn't it?  Go on a first date, and I feel like a bit of a dope asking for my taco with just meat and cheese, and no, just hold the salad, please.

So I'm going to try to learn to expand my horizons.  I'm going to do this by learning as much as I can, by trying things more than once, and by any other method I can come up with.  I don't know if I'll succeed wholly, or partially, or if, a month from now, I'll be back in the warm, squishy arms of Chef Boy-R-Dee.

You're welcome to join me on my little journey, if you like.  I know for sure that I'm not the only person with this embarrassing personal problem.  Who knows what the future holds?