The Novice Foodie

Just eating real foods, lifting heavy things and learning about it along the way


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REBLOG: “Just give me some truth”

There are hundreds of niche health and fitness blogs, websites, and books out there spouting nutritional and exercise advice; some with the factual basis to back their claims but without the popularity to reach a wider audience, and many others with little to no credentials or with an ulterior motive of making money. At the same time, established mainstream publications post content from trusted sources like doctors but without solid backing of their claims.

So for someone looking for guidance on how or what or when to eat, it can be excessively frustrating to find both a reliable source and reliable information. There are a lot of myths that have been repeated so many times that they have fooled even the most careful consumer (i.e. the egg debate). So when I see a myth-busting article based off of findings from a scientific study like this come along in the New York Times, I as both a health-conscious person and a journalist get excited. Finally making its way into the mainstream is something with real research behind its dietary claims, even and most especially ones that have been generally regarded as good advice (such as the benefits of eating breakfast.)

But then you run into this problem: restricted information access. This could be in the form of paywalls, omissions or study abstracts available to but not written for the everyday reader and consumer. In this case, The New England Journal of Medicine and the specific content relevant to readers of this article is only available to subscribers. Plenty of publications don’t give their content away for free online, and understandably so, but the point is that the information remains available only to that target audience. So scientists, doctors and scholars may get that information, but the average person who needs it (arguably more so than those already invested in the material) does not.

It’s a personal interest of mine to actively seek out nutritional information from those small, under-the-radar publications, but not everyone has the time, energy or interest to do so. Many of those publications/organizations/websites have great information, but are either largely unknown (I am still discovering new ones daily) or exclude segments of the population because they don’t identify with weightlifters or vegans (to name a few). Convenience will win every time when it comes to food. That’s why I believe it’s so important to make that elusive, factual information convenient for the everyday consumer. In time, I think these tidbits of truth will make their way into the mainstream media.  But for now, I think the most important thing a person can do is be a critical reader and see where your information is coming from. Evaluate the source of the material and check who is paying for the study before you make any drastic conclusions.

And, take everything in stride. Only you will know what works for you. Everyone has different dietary needs based on medical conditions, daily activities, allergies, religion, moral beliefs and simple likes and dislikes. I’ve quoted him before and I’ll quote him again because so much of what The Institute for the Psychology of Eating is about aligns with what I believe in:

“There’s no “one size fits all” in the diet business…. every nutritional system or expert has at least one nugget of wisdom to offer us. In other words, what’s good for the Okinawans, the French, the Mediterraneans, the Hunzas, the Paleolithics, or the bikini-clad inhabitants of South Beach isn’t necessarily what’s good for us. Just take the nugget of truth that works for you, and that works for the people you love and serve.” – Marc David

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Food Science

As a summer design intern for The Chautauquan Daily, I’ve had the opportunity to not only design the newspaper, but write several stories about some pretty cool people, including the Director of the International Spy Museum Peter Earnest and bestselling author Dan Brown.

For one last story, I attended a cooking demonstration about Molecular Gastronomy. The demo itself was fascinating, there were samples, and the featured chef had amazing talent. He worked alongside world-renowned chefs at the number one restaurant in the world, El Bulli. The demo showcased a variety of cooking techniques that really open the doors for creativity in culinary arts. Read about the dishes in the demo here.

What I took away from the event was a promise for the future of the foods we eat. By using certain chemicals and instruments, a chef can create entirely new tastes and textures. Chef Ross Warhol used everything from spherification to make a solid out of a liquid and aeration to take “melt in your mouth” to a whole other level. He paired white chocolate with pea soup and Parmesan cheese with strawberries and Nutella. The possibilities and combinations are endless. It is an exciting development for the 21st century that pairs modern technology with a most traditional practice. In 10 years, maybe these techniques will make it down to family restaurants and become more commonplace.

 

In addition to the exposure to these techniques, this was a great opportunity for me to practice the skills I am developing as a visual journalist. Not only was I able to write the story, but I also designed my own section front. I went back to the photographer’s full take to create the menu-like pull out information of each dish. I thought it was important to highlight the dishes I discussed in the story, and also the science that went into making them. For the dominant photo, I went back and fourth with a variety of shots similar to the secondary image. I finally decided on this one because it looked more science related and active. I thought the secondary image was important to include so that the Sous Chef would be presented as well.

Overall, the story and the package was a great experience and the opportunity was perfect for me in all aspects.

The section front as it appeared in the 8/20/11 Weekend Edition of the Chautauquan Daily