Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days of Christmas - Three French Hens

Three French Hens. Whether you are a fan of French cuisine or not, one has to admit, the French eat a very rich diet, lots of carbs, lots of rich sauces and butter, oh my the butter. That said, the French eat fresh food, artisan food, gourmet food, on smaller plates and they share their meals with friends. Did I mention wine. They have small family farms, not commercial enterprises.

The French do not have the market cornered either. I would argue that the Germans and Italians eat a very rich diet, with lots of carbs, lots of rich sauces and butter, oh my the butter.

So why are American's the ones with the increasing incidents of food allergies and obesity? Don't believe me, based off this study America is first with nearly 31% of adults falling in the obese range, compared to Germany at 12.9% and France at 9.4%. The pasta loving Italians? They are the lowest of the four, barely tipping the scale at 8.5%. (Oh my, all that pasta and all that cheese!)

I humbly submit that the European diet is largely pure, local and seasonal. There are no frozen convenience foods - engineered and full of salt and fake ingredients - taking center stage on their plates day in and day out. In fact the EU has some of the most stringent rules about labeling, disclosure and prohibits genetically modified foods. Most Europeans use fresh, seasonal ingredients in their cooking and a farmers market is fairly standard in most towns and cities.

I do most of my own cooking. I use whole food ingredients and given all my issues, I cannot eat loads of processed items. I know this helps with my weight management.

I also think portion size is an issue. Go to Europe and you will be surprised how much smaller EVERYTHING is. 250 ml of Coke is the size of a juice glass. Dinner plates look like salad plates here. Salads are small affairs, not massive bowls loaded with bacon, cheese and dressing. Europeans have never heard of an all you can eat buffet.

The Europeans eat meals. Not on the go, not quick fast food. They sit down to a meal, with friends, colleagues, with family. They have a drink with their meal - commonly wine. They laugh and they eat and they feel fuller, because they have made eating a sensual pleasure. They eat lots of fruits and veggies. They eat smaller servings of meat (trust me, meat in Europe is expensive.) Also I have observed that Europeans are always eating. They snack and drink often. They spead the calories out over the day.

I also think that most Europeans do more physical activity than the average American, they walk to the bus stop or the subway station, they have outdoor shopping areas where cars are prohibited. They bike, everywhere.

I find the excess of the holiday season sad and scary. We drink too much and we eat too much and all in the guise of being "merry and bright." Why not make every day a celebration of food. Why not celebrate the bounty of the earth that we get every single day. Why not respect ourselves and what we are putting in our mouths and bodies?

Three French Hens win over one over processed warehoused American hen, any day of the week.

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