Monday, 11 January 2010

In Defence of Food - Progress Report

A few months ago I made a post about the changes I planned to make to my shopping and eating habits after reading Michael Pollan's In Defence of Food. I thought I'd update on how I've been doing.

We've been receiving a fruit and veg box weekly since the end of November. This has been one of the best food decisions I've ever decided to make. We not only spend less money in the supermarket now, we also spend less time in there (and that can only be a good thing!). It's damn convenient having your week's fruit and veg delivered to you in one box, and I also get excited about the different things I receive in my box each week - the lady who runs the scheme often asks if we want anything specific, but I love the surprise too much to ever specify anything. I have now cooked several vegetables I'd never cooked before, including fresh spinach, swede and parsnips and tasted new vegetables I never even knew existed such as kale and purple carrots! Having the fruit and veg box has vastly increased the volume and range of vegetables we eat, and most of it is local and it is all organic produce.

The thing I feared the most about the proposed changes to my diet was the switch to butter from the low-fat spread I had relied on to keep me vaguely thin and 'healthy' my entire adult life. I've now been having butter on my toast for 3 months or so. My net weight gain over this period has been zero; in fact I am probably down a pound or two. Ok, so I don't go crazy with the butter - I (mostly) have small amounts on my toast and in my sandwiches. And the increase in vegetable consumption has probably helped too. But this is fantastic news for me. I've spent so much of my life convinced that eating real butter would make me fat - and it would if I ate enough of it - but to eat butter in moderation is, I am now convinced, healthy and natural.

I've made other small changes too: I only buy natural yoghurt now, as I've yet to discover a flavoured yoghurt that doesn't contain artificial flavourings or preservatives. But it turns out I really like natural yoghurt - my favourite is Yeo Valley Organic. I find a snack of chopped fruit covered in creamy natural yoghurt a filling and delicious treat.

I now buy wholewheat pasta and am eating more wholegrain rice (although the other half is not too keen on the latter!).

We have started to use a local butcher's for some of our meat, but to be honest we could improve on this score and we still rely on the supermarket a little too much for my liking.

There are still several things I would like to improve on, but this is a work in progress and I think we have done really well with all the changes we've made so far. I think we could still do with eating a little less meat (this is difficult with my fiancé around!) and I would like to grow some more things of my own on our window sills and our balcony and get better at tending to plants (she says looking guiltily at the half-dead coriander plant). I would also like to start baking some more homemade bread, now that I have some idea how to do it!

Still, it's a step in the right direction. I look forward to reporting on my progress again in another few months' time!


  1. How interesting. In the late 70's when DH & I first married (I sound as if I am really ancient lol)we got into wholefoods. We still eat brown rice and brown pasta, have unsweetened muesli with natural yogurt. We made our own bread then had a hiatus for a while and now have our bread maker and are back to our wholemeal loaves with lots of seeds in them. I would like to get a veg box but it would not be local so haven't done it. Also getting to the butcher is difficult for me. You have made me think about trying to make that extra effort though. We also only eat butter (in moderation of course). Great post, thanks for sharing your eating plan.

  2. I'm glad I've made you think about making an effort. I would have difficulty getting to the butcher's without my other half as I don't drive. Also it isn't the easiest thing when you're busy and you work full time - but I'm coming round to the idea that the stuff I put into my body is important; after all food is life!

  3. Ah a nice pleasant read. Have you considered growing some of your own veg/herbs? You don't need a huge garden, even a windowsill allows you to grow some things.

    Being Italian, I grow as much as I can. You should check out "Seeds Of Italy" google it. Its the supplier people like James Martin, Jamie Oliver etc use to get obscure varities. Worth a look at!

  4. I will reward your effort with an award. You might recognise it. ;)

    No, seriously, I am impressed. I definitely should make an effort to eat less meat. I think I would quite happily eat meat-free meals all week and have a really decent bit of meat at the weekend. Hmm. So many reasons why that would be a good thing to do.

    Anyway, I'm enjoying reading your progress reports. :)

  5. Well done you. I haven't heard of In Defence of Food, but from what you say, it sounds as the he's on the right track. Butter is soooo much better for you that any sort of marg and usually anything that says "low fat" is something to be avoided in my book. Other than homemade yogurt, Yeo Valley is my favourite too. I look forward to seeing how you get on.