I’ve had peas on my mind for a while now.  For months Michael Pollan’s slim bestseller Food Rules has been sitting face-up here on my desk, with its oversize pea-pod cover art winking at me like a series of traffic lights, waiting for me to write about this subject.  Eight dime-size, bright-green peas jammed together on the cover seem to suggest subliminally, “Go! Go! Go!… This is the way to go!”

 

Indeed, Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual (Penguin 2009) is the way to go for those of us who sometimes feel a little lost in the sea of choices we face in the supermarket aisles.  It’s a must-have, must-read, must-pass-along-to-your-nearests-and-dearests, easy-to-carry-around, easily-digested guidebook filled with sixty-four simple (and sometimes funny:  “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t” and “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”) rules for maintaining a healthier daily diet.

 

Of course, Pollan’s Food Rules isn’t news; it’s been out for over two years.  But since March is National Nutrition Month, and I’ve had peas on the brain, it seemed the best time to pick up this paperback, reopen its enticing, verdant cover, and reprise some of Pollan’s pithy rules.  Here are some of my favorites:

 

·Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.  (One of the examples Pollan gives is ethoxylated diglycerides.)

 

·Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.  (See above example.)

 

·Shop the peripheries of the supermarket [where the fresher foods usually are] and stay out of the middle [where the packaged foods filled with preservatives live].

 

·Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans.  (“In general,” Pollan says, “corporations cook with too much salt, fat, and sugar, as well as with preservatives, colorings, and other biological novelties….”)

 

·Eat your colors.  (At the moment, I’m big on bright-green peas.)

 

·Eat more like the French.  Or the Japanese.  Or the Italians.  Or the Greeks.  (And I suggest investing in good cookbooks on each of these cuisines.)

 

·Have a glass of wine with dinner.  (This is one rule I seldom break.)

 

·Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.  (And I would add:  Kiss the cook.)

 

·Do all your eating at a table.  (That means, not standing up or at a desk.)

 

·Plant a vegetable garden if you have the space…. (Yes – plant peas now!)

 

·Cook.  (As Pollan says, “Cooking for yourself is the only sure way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors and to guarantee you’re eating real food and not edible foodlike substances…”)

 

This past week I made a big pot of the French Fresh Pea Soup I included in last week’s post, and I’ve had a cup of it almost every day for lunch.  It is the very taste of spring – so green and vibrant and bursting with flavor.  Michael Pollan, I know, would approve.