I just read that Cauliflower is Food of the Year for 2015. I’m disgusted. First, gross…I don’t love it and instead of my paltry 3 piece per year consumption, it will now be everywhere and people will offer it up raw, cooked, mashed, grilled, in a smoothie and for dessert. It will be on every Food Network show, every food segment on late night, every magazine, and on every restaurant menu. Second, I’m growing very weary of our ‘eureka culture’ that seems to arbitrarily nominate something as the next magic bullet, the cure-all to everything that ails us but then everything still ails us. The unwavering belief in our own expertise and our faith in untested hype is becoming an ailment unto itself.
I’m not saying that I don’t eat healthy food in an effort to be healthy. I do. I try to avoid chemicals and preservatives when I can. I’ve been known to buy organic fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy. I do think of food as fuel or food as medicine or food as a drug (depending on your philosophical bent). Anyone who has spent time with me after 3 cups of coffee and a blueberry muffin has seen the full display of that shocking cause and effect.
I cook for myself and for my family in an effort to provide some balance in our diets. We can’t live on noodles alone (although the children try). I don’t ingest much that is processed or shelf stable mainly because it makes me feel bad. But I’m not at all convinced by all the nutritionists, doctors, institutes, research studies, food coaches, shamans, trainers, bloggers, fit persons, etc. that they have the answer let alone all of the answers. I’m just not sold on cauliflower. There is nothing new about cauliflower and I don’t think it’s special…even wearing the crown of food of the year.
Eventually all the experts’ subjects that support their theories are dead just the same and there are a multitude of factors far beyond how many ounces of açai juice they ingested. Although açai juice is so three years ago….substitute kale, quinoa or kefir into the equation and the result is similar. Plus, the professionals keep changing their damn minds as they learn new information. Hence, my anger at the 2015 favorite cruciferous food. It cannot possibly be that simple. If it were, I would think we would have century long longitudinal, mass scale, research and professional consensus internationally and all be doing X and would not feel the need to designate anything a ‘super food’ ever again. We would just call it food.
Many years ago I worked with a woman who I will call Sharon. (Her name actually was Sharon. Pseudonyms confuse me.) She was always on a diet. In the two years I knew her, she did The Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet, something with pure cranberry juice, a grapefruit torture as well as other things she cobbled together on her own like the “Drink chocolate flavored slim fast all day plan”. She wanted to lose weight and have more energy.
Sharon’s diets resulted in 3 things. She always had what she called “diet breath” meaning a strange atrophy of her tongue and mouth that was hideously unpleasant. This couldn’t have done anything positive for her professionally as she was a salesperson meeting face to face with clients all day long. Also, she screamed at everyone when she was on a diet (we quietly prayed behind her back that she would just eat a sandwich so she would calm the heck down and we stocked the break room accordingly). Lastly, she never lost weight.
I did once see her order a side salad with two glasses of wine at lunch. We were at Ciatti’s in Eden Prairie, MN. I was likely shoveling pasta and baskets of bread sticks down. (remember those glorious bread sticks?) This was before the whole “calories in calories out” sensibility and some carbs were still our friends. Frankly, I was thrilled she had the wine. She was way nicer that day. More energy. Nice energy. The part of her diet odyssey that always fascinated me was her absolute conviction that the new diet was going to work. She dragged around the current book, measured out food like a mad scientist and despite the fact that none of them yielded the results she was after, she eventually gave into the absolute abandonment of the previous diet in search of the next magical fix. Hope triumphing over experience I guess. I fear Sharon is somewhere right now cramming cauliflower into her refrigerator planning on making it taste like a steak. Angrily.
I like healthy food. I like unhealthy food. I like food. I love to cook. I love to bake. I bake better than I cook. That guy who does the severe calorie restriction for health and long life looks insane and emaciated to me. I don’t think severe a calorie restriction diet would add 5 great years to my life because I would hurt anyone if they denied me gluten packed, flour filled, buttered, leavened, nutritionally shallow bread every once in a while. I really believe I’d have a lower quality of life if I didn’t share good meals made with some non-super foods with people I love.
Reading the labels for calories seems ridiculous to me because I would never actually keep a log of how many I ate, how many I burned, what weight I’m at. We don’t own a scale. Our scale is this…pants fit or pants don’t fit. I can’t put forth the mental energy into making my food intake a research project. It would be like me setting goals each day for breaths taken. It’s just going to happen whether or not I’m counting them. I’ve got other things more enjoyable to me and more important to me than tracking myself like a lab rat. Plus, I fully grasp that I am eating things often that will likely kill me. I’m just not always sure what those things are. I don’t want to know because I’m doing the best I can…the best I’m willing to do.
Here is my non-expert, not even rooted in science thought process with food (post 35 years old):
- Try not to eat junk because it makes me feel terrible. Often I don’t, sometimes I do. My passionate love affair with Frito-Lay and everything they make has cooled off. Goodbye entire family sized bag of chips…it was beautiful while it lasted. Sadly, a cocktail of MSG and salt gives me a serious hangover.
- Do I want to wear this doughnut on my thighs for the next month? Often, my answer is yes. Yes, I do. That doughnut is so worth it to me, I will walk around until it falls off again. The doughnut pictured above? I ate it yesterday.
- Should I finish this even though I’m full? (Oh full cycle of guilt ensues: the cost of food, wasting food, feeling overfull, general tempting yumminess, etc.) Before age 35…eat it. Every single time. Now…leave it. Even at a restaurant-even if it’s my favorite. My pants still fit. I’d rather waste $4 worth of food than endure the cost of purchasing new pants PLUS the mental anguish of finding said pants. My metabolism used to be a star sprinter but now it only walks along leisurely.
So–cauliflower. I’m already over you. You are not new or super to me. If I find out that in addition to fiber and vitamins, you smooth wrinkles, inject me with super human strength, improve my linear algebra ability, clean my house and make the DMV feel like Vegas, I might be willing to give you a chance.
I’m assuming though…there will be someone who has newsworthy GI issues from a Cauliflower overdose this year and you will be knocked off your pedestal replaced by something else for 2016.
I’m holding out for BANANAS! Listen up Dole…get out the studies on bananas for 2016: Super food of really lazy people. One of my faves. They need no refrigeration and come in their OWN biodegradable wrappers. Plus, I’m not a doctor, but I’m guessing people are going to welcome some bananas after they down all that cauliflower.