Earlier in the year, I mentioned that at the end of January, this blog would go into retirement – or at least hibernation – while I started working on a brand-new project.
Well, I meant to start talking about my super-exciting plans about two weeks ago, and meant to start the new project last week. So, it’s about time I talk.
Basically: I’m going to follow the food rules outlined in Michael Pollan’s titular book TO THE LETTER for the next forty days.
Why forty days? Why now? As many of you may have connected the dots: last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, and we’re now in the season of Lent.
Let me say first that, despite taking place over Lent, this is NOT a religious project and this blog will NOT be about God. This will probably be the last time I mention God, except maybe in some vague or abstract musings about the nature of the world or the human condition. I’ve never really been able to quit that. But as far as my own spirituality goes, I am a faithful person. My relationship to the idea of God is a strange, aching, personal path. “Personal,” being a key word. I don’t like to talk about my faith and I certainly don’t like to shove it in anybody’s face.
But, that being said, no matter where I seem to end up on my road to God, Lent – a religious staple of my childhood – has always been a beloved and spiritually enlivening time of the year. I am a big believer in the spirituality of sacrifice, no matter what your faith, and the awareness gratitude, and mindful restraint in cultivates. I always get excited about Lent. I think of it as a time for growth, reflection, and big ideas.
This year, I have a really big idea. For a long time, I’ve been toying with the idea of pulling off a somewhat ambitious Lenten sacrifice: to give up all processed food. I love this idea in theory, but in practice it gets a little muddy. What exactly constitutes “processed food”? The Cheetos in the pantry definitely fall under the category and the apple in my crisper definitely does not. But what about my hummus from the grocery store? Is THAT processed? And if so, what sort of floodgate does that open up? Is my yogurt processed? That loaf of wheat bread?
If I were to do this, I realized, I would need to sit down and write down the rules. I’d need a whole list of comprehensive and carefully considered rules. It was an overwhelming task.
Then what should fall into my lap but a book by Michael Pollan called “Food Rules.” 83 lovingly developed, well thought-out rules about how to eat a balanced diet and escape processed food in the modern Western world. Exactly the guide I needed.
It all started to come together. Observe all 83 rules for 40 days, and focus on (roughly) two specific rules a day. It was perfect. And, what’s more, it would be a fantastic adventure to write about and share.
The scope of Pollan’s rules make this a pretty terrifying undertaking, and I’m pretty sure I’m clinically insane for doing it, but at least it’ll be fun to share the insanity. I’m looking forward to writing about all my discoveries and inevitable disasters.
The new address is:
I hope you follow me. I’m a little scared. But excited. But scared.