The Maurice Reeves Rule for Food Substitutes

July 21, 2010
Having a wife who’s diabetic and having weight issues of my own, I have often notion of “real food” versus “engineered food”, or “food substitute.”
By real food I mean genuine food you can identify, with products you can readily identify.  For example, a steak and a salad is real food.  You know where they both came from.  Fruit salad is real food.  A fried egg is real food.
Food substitutes are things like Muscle Milk, Luna Bars, those Cookie Diet cookies.  They were engineered and created in a lab.  You’re not stocking a jar of soy protein isolate in your pantry.
And the whole notion of engineered foods bothers me a bit.  I don’t think people should eat it.  It’s not good for you, despite the claims.  And here’s how I think I can prove it, with a simple rule:
If after eating Food Substitute X, you are still craving Real Food Y, then Food Substitute X was not worth eating.
Let me give you a concrete example:
Who among you has eaten a steak dinner, with a salad and a baked potato and said “You know what would really go well with this?  A Slim-Fast.”  I venture none of you.  But how many of your food substitute eaters have dutifully drank your diet shakes and eaten your magic diet bars and a half-hour later, an hour later, sat there thinking “I WOULD KILL FOR A DONUT.” I venture all of you.
And you know what?  Most times, you probably end up caving, especially in times of stress, which in these modern times, feels like all the time.  So what you’ve really done is increased the total number of calories you’ve eaten, felt guilty because you still cheated on your diet, and felt miserable because you ate something you didn’t really enjoy.
I say, ditch the food substitutes.  Eat the real food.  Enjoy your steak, enjoy your bowl of pasta, and feel contented in knowing where your food came from, and how sated you really are.
(FYI – I have cross-posted this to my other (often neglected) blog: I Have A Lot of Nothing To Say.)
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How to Get Some Real Food in Your Life

May 13, 2010

There are a few quick and easy way to get some real food in your life:

  1. Buy a share of Community Supported Agriculture.  Community Supported Agriculture is where a farm sells a portion of their product directly to people in the community instead of to stores or processors.  They typically offer different sized shares for different families.  Some ask that you come help at the farm and even give you a discount if you do.  Others just sell you the food directly.  Some of the farms that offer CSAs are the very same ones that sell to the grocery stores, but you’re often getting it cheaper and fresher than your store does because it doesn’t have to go some central warehouse to be redistributed.  Another wonderful thing about CSA shares is that you are never quite sure what you’re going to get.  This gives you a chance to stretch your culinary skills as you adapt to the new items you get.
  2. Shop at a Farmer’s Market.  A lot of towns have a local farmer’s market these days, and it’s a great place to get some real food.  Not only are there farmers selling their wares, but other foodies as well: bakers, butchers, coffee roasters, cheese makers, and they’re all making it fresh, and selling it directly to you.  The bread you get at your local megamart is nothing like the taste of a fresh warm bread made from four simple ingredients: water, yeast, flour, and salt that has just come out of the oven.  Go, shop your farmers market.  You’ll be surprised and impressed.
  3. Shop the edges at your local grocery store.  If you can’t or won’t go to the CSA, and the farmers market is not your thing, you can still minimize the amount of junk in your house by shopping the edges of your grocery store.  What do I mean by this?  Well, picture your store.  It’s probably a big rectangle.  At one end are the fruits and vegetables.  At the other side is probably the milk and dairy.  At the back end are the typically the butcher, and the deli.  Where’s all the junk food?  In the middle aisles.  If you just shop the edges, buying fresh vegetables, fresh meats, and skip everything in the center, you’ve gotten real food in your house.

If you’re interested in a CSA, look online.  Two very good ones in the Harrisburg area are:

Shared Earth Farm

And Spiral Path Farm

Happy cooking!