January 6, 2010

Keep it simple: Michael Pollan's food rules

When I started learning to do surgery over 40 years ago, I had many teachers.  There were and still are basic techniques for handling tissue and tying surgical knots either with two hands or one hand.  And for many common operative procedures there's a basic routine you go through.  What varies a lot from surgeon to surgeon is how many different types of clamps, scissors, and sutures are used to do the exact same procedure.

My very favorite teachers were those who kept it simple.  They'd use a couple of sutures rather than six different kinds and other basic instruments.  During my years in the OR I tried to follow their lead.  I also like to follow that lead in the kitchen.  Why use a garlic press that gets the skins all stuck inside when you can use your chef's knife to gently smash the clove and make the skin almost jump off?

A great teacher who likes to keep it simple in the kitchen is Michael Pollan.  The author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma", "The Botany of Desire", and "In Defense of Food" has written a new book called " Food Rules".  It's a snack size book that can be read in a half hour and gives excellent and simple practical advice --- eat food, mostly plants, and not too much.  Eat only foods that will rot (honey is an exception and has a naturally long shelf life).  Buy your snacks at a farmers market.  Avoid foods you see advertised on television.  Don't ingest food made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.  There are many more that make really good sense.

He keeps it simple.  Check out this recent interview with Michael Pollan on the Daily Show.

I think his book is loaded with sound advice. Happy shopping and eating.