Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Great-Grandma Rule

Food choices are getting so much harder. With all the variety on the supermarket shelves, it isn't always easy to find the 'best' food for your body. Add to that a fussy kids or two or a person in the household requiring a specialised "diet" and your choices are exponentially trickier. Should we just stick to carrots?

Well, my mate Michael Pollan (who isn't really my mate but rather the author of Food Rules) gives us a new Mantra to stick by:

 "Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise as food."

By this he means, that you should imagine yourself and your Great-grandmother, strolling the aisles of the supermarket together. What do you think she would be able to pick off the shelf and pop straight into the trolley, without explanation? A Go-GURT Portable Yoghurt tube? I don't think so.

There are literally thousands of products on our shelves that our ancestors would not even realise were food.

Why shouldn't we eat this stuff? Besides the chemical additives? The corn and soy derivatives they contain? Or the plastics in which they are packaged (some of which are probably toxic)?

Well, these foods are designed to make us want to eat more of them. You want to eat more, so you have to buy more. They push our evolutionary buttons - our innate preferences for sugar, fat and fat (ever seen a child have to try chocolate more than once before they accept it? How about brussel sprouts then? See, we a programmed to like the 'bad' stuff!)

These tastes are difficult to find in nature, but cheap and easy to process into our foods. We are getting way too many of them than is good for us.

Apply the "Great-Grandma Rule"* and most of this processed badness will stay out of your trolley.

According to Pollan, the sub-rules of  the Great-Grandma Rule are:
1. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
2. Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup
3. Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients
4. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
5. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce

The list goes on, but that is probably enough for now.

Go out and try this rule and let me know how it goes.

* NB: If your G-G was a terrible eater or cook, use someone else's for this task. Preferrably a Sicilian or French grandma.


Maxabella said...

This is what I try to do... avoid the 'numbers' and random ingredients. It's why I mantain that if the kids want a treat, they can have something like plain potato chips as the ingredients there are potatoes, oil and salt. Nothing else. Rates okay in my book as a sometime food.

Jess said...

Love it. I am printing out the Great Grandma rule for the inside of my pantry, so I can be reminded when I go shopping.

I think we are pretty good like this already - I cant eat gluten so that cuts out heaps of processed stuff and I tend to use fruit & homemade goodies as snacks... still, there is always room for more improvement!

ecoMILF said...

I love this rule. I've heard it before and try to keep it in mind at the markets and in life in general. I apply it to toys quite often too. I think of the kind of basic homemade toys they would have had instead of all the plastic flashing junk our kids are exposed to nowadays. xo m.

MultipleMum said...

I am really trying too but I have to say that it is hard. Especially on 'time poor' days. Sometimes the most processed things are so much 'easier'. Must be more organised!

I love the toy extension too EcoMILF. Definitely do that!

life in a pink fibro said...

I try - I read the labels but even then I get it all wrong sometimes (don't start me on Sky Dlite yoghurt). But I'm getting better at it and it's on my 'must try harder' list.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I popped over to the computer for a minute and read your I was cooking brussel sprouts for the girls! :) That's one of their favorite foods...

Since I started cooking for the girls, I really try to avoid processed foods. Nothing creeps me out more these days than the thought of Velveeta or condensed cream of mushroom soup!

My husband and I were just having a conversation about processed foods last night. I want the girls to have tasted Twinkies and fast food at some point (not yet!), but I hope to establish a real love of slow food, so that will be their preference if and when they're given a choice.

PinkPatentMaryJanes said...

I love this idea - I try to stick as closely as possible to real food, but what a lovely reminder. I'm going to summon up an image of my gorgeous "Nana-with-glasses" (great grandmother, who, funnily enough had glasses unlike regular Nana) next time I go shopping!

mummabear1970 said...

I have all these aspirations to cook from scratch & not buy things that great-grandma wouldn't recognise as food, then my not-as-organised-as-one-would-appear life kicks in & I usually end up with a fair whack of processed food in the pantry. Note to self - start using those cookbooks you collect - they teach you how to cook from scratch! Thanks for your post - served as a timely reminder!

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