By Renee Farrell
ICC Student, Professional Culinary Arts
How many articles can the Internet find on “bacon jam”? Google comes up with 16.6 million results. What about “juice cleanses”? 13.2 million results. Now let’s try something that fits snugly in between those two extremes: “balanced diet”. Only 11.4 million hits. Why is this topic the least popular? Probably because it’s less sexy, doesn’t act like a reality TV show and doesn’t photograph well for glossy magazines.
The fact of the matter is that sensationalism draws attention and balance doesn’t. Crazes come and go (Atkins 1972) and sometimes they even get an encore (Atkins 2011), but balanced diets have worked for centuries and remain the original and most effective way to ensure the best possible existence you can achieve.
It’s nutrition week at ICC for my Professional Culinary Arts class. We started with Meatless Monday and have rounded out a week of lectures from our French Master Chef-Instructor Marc Bauer. His attitude towards food was formed as a youngster growing up on an Alsatian Farm, and later refined through study of nutrition at university. His approach is simple: eat a little bit of everything. There is particular emphasis on the “little”. In France he was taught to leave the table feeling a little less than satiated, which is very different from the American approach to eat until your full.
Diets are also factors of economy. Larger consumption of food requires cheap inputs with long shelf life in order to be affordable, which is why highly processed carbohydrates, fats and sugars play such a starring role in manufactured foods. When I first came to America as an exchange student in 2004, I was mesmerized by all of the sweet, inexpensive, long shelf-life products I found and tried. Bread would last two weeks, unlike the three days we used to get back in Australia, and ketchup was much sweeter and saltier than I had ever tasted. All of these staples of the American diet were pretty inexpensive, very convenient, had a lot of sugar and packed with preservatives to extend the used-by date. There is also another cultural factor supporting the trend of high consumption of sugar and preservatives, and that’s the popularity of prescription medication. If an imbalance exists in your body it can be treated with ease. And vitamins can back you up. There really is a pill for everything.
In this fast-paced modern world with a growing population I understand the need for cheap and convenient food, however, eggs are pretty cheap and convenient. So is an apple.
I’m not writing to debunk any myths or sway you from starting a new diet trend, but I am advocating that a balanced approach, over a long period of time, may just be the best way to go. And think of the benefits a little bit of everything will bring. I’m pretty sure Chef Marc said good things about red wine.
Learn more: Professional Culinary Arts