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mamster

Healthy eating

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As we all know, over the last couple of decades the American rate of obesity has been climbing right along with spending on nutritional campaigns. As someone concerned with healthy cooking, what do you think could get American eating habits back on track? Do restaurateurs play a role or have any responsibility?


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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What went wrong is that the initial reaction and subsequent overreaction to unhealthful eating was generated by health food restaurants and clinical nutritionists rather than chefs. Most health food restaurants are passionate only about what they don't want to put into their bodies rather than being passionate about the flavor of what they do put in. To many in this camp, eating is nothing more than an exercise in subsistence. The flavor of food is far less important than what the food may or may not do to them. Most clinical nutritionists might barely be able to boil water, but are great at making charts and graphs. To them, food is data rather than our most intimate relationship to the glory of nature.

Because these "health police" took it upon themselves to be the "authorities" on the subject, and moved immediately to open restaurants and grocery stores full of bland, lifeless, passionless, statistics-laden food substitutes, they created an extremely negative perception of healthful eating. This has caused many of my colleagues to run as far from healthful cooking as possible - and while some do cook more healthfully than others, they are afraid for their lives to admit it. Our society has also enjoyed "excess born of success" that has caused us to bathe and breathe in artisanal products that were originally intended as enhancers and perfecters, rather than main subjects, like butter. Vegetables became "wimp food" and we foolishly began ordering meat with startch, fat, fat, starch and more fat.

You can eat very healthfully and eat butter, cream, goose fat and so on, but not when these ingredients are prevalent in every meal you eat. Balance is the key.

All chefs and restaurateurs are responsible for what they serve, though many will disagree. There is no question that what we choose to cook has a direct impact on the eater. Unfortunately, the lure of stars and culinary awards has many chefs believing the more decadent the better. On the flip side, all chefs and restaurateurs have an absolute right to serve what they want - how they want. This is what makes our business so exciting and personal.

I do believe that the pendulum needs to swing back more toward the center, and that the "health police" need to be incarcerated. :raz:

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Not to butter up the guest or anything, but that rocked.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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