It’s the old “drunk on the horse” scenario once again. We humans can’t seem to stay in the middle of the road, no matter how hard we try. The fad of the moment takes over and people start going to extremes. The bandwagon starts filling up. Nowhere is this tendency more evident than in the area of food. Because we’re so rich and so well-fed, indeed overly well-fed, we have the luxury of developing food fads. Believe me, people who are living on the verge of starvation don’t have any time for worrying about their cholesterol. They just need something to eat.
But there we are, standing in the aisles of our well-stocked grocery stores, figuring out what to buy. Or we’re at a restaurant, figuring out what to order. And the whole thing is just confusing. Aren’t lots of people saying that we should go gluten-free? But . . . that gluten-free pancake mix in the baking aisle is awfully expensive. Well, health is sometimes expensive, right? And the oils. Which one is best? Surely it’s the vegetable oil. Vegetables are good for you, right? None of that saturated fat business. Same for the stuff you spread on bread—surely we don’t want to use that rich, creamy butter!
Instead of my trying to persuade you that, just because Gwyneth Paltrow wants you to go gluten-free and all sort of nutty stuff, you don’t need to unless you are actually gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive in some way (in which case you are owe no one any apologies or explanations), and just because that nasty saturated animal fat has been demonized you don’t have to go the polyunsaturated route, I would highly recommend that you listen to the following three podcasts.
The first two are from Malcolm Gladwell, the popular social scientist and author of several best-selling books, including Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers. His podcast is called Revisionist History, in which he takes a new look at stories that aren’t what you might have thought. The two episodes I’m recommending are about the whole saturated fat/cholesterol/McDonald’s french fries hoop-dee-doo.
The third podcast episode I recommend is from the totally fascinating Steven Dubner, the co-author of Freakonomics, a book which you must read if you haven’t done so already. Puh-leeze! I’m begging you! He takes on the whole gluten-is-evil-for-everyone idea and rips it to shreds.
Ready to be enlightened? Here you go:
“The Basement Tapes” from Season Two of Revisionist History
“McDonald’s Broke My Heart” from Season Two of Revisionist History
“The Demonization of Gluten” from Freakonomics Radio
Load them up on your phone and go listen to them while you rake the leaves.