Serious Eats

Michael Pollan's Twelve Commandments for Serious Eaters: Can You Live By Them?

Here they are, Michael Pollan's Twelve Commandments for Serious Eaters, from his new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. As Jamie Forrest noted yesterday, a few food pundits are taking him to task for a number of them. I'm down with most of what brother Pollan is preaching. What about you? These commandments are made to order for serious fat-chewing.

1. "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." Hard to argue with that. I don't think my grandmother would have recognized porcini mushroom foam as food, though.

2. "Avoid foods containing ingredients you can't pronounce." Hey, what about bouquet garni?

3. "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot."

4. "Avoid food products that carry health claims."

5. "Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle."

6. "Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmers' market or CSA."

7. "Pay more, eat less." Easy for him—or anybody else with enough discretionary spending power—to say. Not so easy for the working poor or even middle class folks who have very little extra money for anything.

8. "Eat a wide variety of species." But can't I eat heritage pork products more often than others?

9. "Eat food from animals that eat grass." As long as these animals can occasionally be finished on corn. Sorry, Michael: Beef from cows that eat grass and then corn taste better.

10. "Cook, and if you can, grow some of your own food." Amen, brother Michael. I'll cook, but in New York it's hard to grow some of your own food. Would the AeroGarden in our office count?

11. "Eat meals and eat them only at tables." Hard to argue with this one.

12. "Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure." This, brother Pollen, is probably the most important commandment for this particular Serious Eater.

The key to living by Pollan's commandments is to realize that it's not an all-or-nothing situation. We can't, shouldn't, and won't be able to be slaves to all 12 commandments. But they're a good starting point for both Serious Eater discussion and serious action.

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