Greenblading: Why bother?
June 8, 2011
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Once I had to endure the allergy elimination diet. This is the one where you reduce the things you eat to a (very short) list of things that are typically not known to cause reactions and then you add food groups slowly, one at a time, over the course of weeks. The usual things to eliminate are dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, shellfish, and refined sugar. Then there might be other things depending upon individual reactions and medical advice. I also had to avoid all legumes. This diet requires commitment and vigilance and *work.* A friend of mine called it the Why Bother Living Diet.
I thought about that when I was reading Mark Bittman’s column, Hooked on Meat. In it he tells this story:
A restaurant in Istanbul that had blown my mind 10 years ago with its local variety [of fish] was offering wild turbot (decidedly not local) and swordfish, along with a few fish that the waiter kindly un-pushed: “These are from the farm,” he said, “so why bother?”
Bittman suggests that our bodies crave meat because we are hard-wired that way. The comments to his column take issue with that view, as I think one can take issue with just about any opinion about food these days. The comments also show the touching and futile urge to find a single cause for why we are so unbalanced now in our approach to food and seem to be spreading this lack of balance in the world. The problem is protein! The problem is carbs! The problem is portion control! The problem is the holes *I* can poke *your* argument!
But there is a lot of good sense out there. Michael Pollan’s “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants” is one maxim that is easy to remember and sensible to live out. But now I like the wisdom from Mark Bittman’s waiter in Turkey: “Why bother?”
If what you are choosing to eat is worth eating, it will be life-enhancing. If it is delicious it is also likely to be fresh, clean, and well-prepared. The thing about being human is we have myriad choices and it is up to us to make them. We can’t blame marketing or availability or hard-wiring or the Chinese. We can each make the choices that matter to us, that bring nourishment, pleasure, joy. Otherwise, why bother living?