Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why I Rarely Eat Out

From the book I'm reading, The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller, M.D.:
Recently, as I was waiting to use the restroom in my favorite Thai restaurant in San Francisco, I was reminded of [how restaurants can turn healthy food unhealthy]. Tucked back in the kitchen, I spied a huge case of Skippy crunchy peanut butter. So this was the secret ingredient in all those peanut dishes! Thai recipes that were originally meant to include whole peanuts, rich in monounsaturated fats and protein, now contained Skippy, a nut butter mixed with other manipulated fats, that happens to have sugar as its second ingredient. This illustrates how important it is to cook your own foods and do most of your [healthy] eating at home. (p. 20)
Somehow, I began developing a sense a few years ago that, when I sit down in a restaurant, I am at the mercy of the people in the kitchen. Literally, I place my health in their hands. And given what I know (and the Bible says) about human nature, that's not a transaction I'm willing to make easily. To get Skippy peanut butter (sugar, hydrogenated oils) instead of pure nut-based peanut sauce in a Thai restaurant is the refined version of stories that came out a few years ago about teenage cooks spitting in the food (for fun or spite) and picking hamburgers up off the dirty floor and putting them back on the grill at fast food joints.

One assumes that this kind of thing doesn't happen at Chez Panisse or Millennium in San Francisco, or the Candle Cafe or Candle 79 in New York City. But how would one know for sure? This isn't paranoia, it's realism. In all of life, there's a time and place for faith (trust), but not blind faith.

The guiding principle about wealth is that nobody cares as much about your money as you do, especially when "caring" has a profit motive. And the same can be said about health and food: nobody cares as much about your health as you do—especially when there is money to be made at your expense.

So, get to know your food. Get to know the people who cook your food. And take nothing for granted in an age when the heart of man is demonstrably "deceitful above all things and beyond cure" (Jeremiah 17:9).

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