Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
. . . Answers the question, “Why dietetics?”
The first dish Chef told us to make in Skills (at the Culinary Institute of America) was asparagus and hollandaise sauce. We peeled asparagus, blanched them green, and shocked them in ice water. To make the rich sauce, I reduced vinegar with peppercorns and whisked in egg yolks, clarified butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I poured sauce and sprinkled parsley on the asparagus spears gently arranged on a warm plate.
I gained 15 pounds during my first three months away at school. Was it worth gaining weight so fast? And what about the executives, country club regulars and restaurant diners who would be eating the food I prepared in this manner?
In professional culinary arts, foods are building blocks for engineering palaces on the plate: gifts in luxurious and edible wrappings sealed with butter and truffle oil. Vegetables are colorful garnish. Restaurant chefs don’t worry about calories, saturated fat, and absent fiber.
Though I mastered the manipulation of food, it was only after my training when I appreciated that aesthetic, nutrition and satisfaction were not mutually exclusive goals for food. When we enjoy food, we want to eat more of it. And we taste meals, not nutrients. We need to enjoy food and comprehend that its intake maintains bodily processes and cellular functions necessary for life.
My professional chef practice lacked a vital ingredient. So, I studied clinical nutrition at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. From my new clinical foundation, I burned with questions: why are so many Americans obese? Why do so many children get type II diabetes? Why do we eat less than half of the fiber and 60% of the iron we need? How can we believe our beloved French fries are really vegetables? We embrace everyday foods cooked with industrial ingredients and unrecognizable chemicals like trans fats. Why? Why is fat free salad dressing popular when we know that fat improves the absorption of nutrients from vegetables and makes them taste better?
I care about eating nutritious food because I know that what people eat can help them live happier, healthier and more productive lives. We can eat in a balanced way and enjoy flavor with satisfaction and maximum nutritional benefit. I understand the social implications of a nation hooked on fast food. Excessive caloric intake has vast ramifications for future generations. As a nation, we can choose what we eat and consume food in harmony with our ecology. Food does not have to be an enemy. It shouldn’t be something we passively consume. Our history of habit, reinforced by instant gratification, convenience, and the needs of the food industry, determines what we eat. Desperately, we need professionals to help us make better food choices. Our bodies, bank accounts and planet will thank us.Posted by admin / Filed under career, internship, Leah Greenbaum / Comments: more