Grazing: Year end rant

Eating well and healthfully during the recession

Trends of the last year?

Slow-roasted meats. More tapas. Local produce. Organic meat. Fancy burgers. Gastropubs. Fixed-price menus. Chocolate. Mainstreaming of molecular cuisine. Yummy scrap meat. Gluten-free dining. Tea. Chef-driven steak houses.

And then, looking ahead: poverty and bad health. No, they’re not exactly dining trends but they’re certainly beginning to play a significant role in our food life.

This hit home with me recently, when Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food,” appeared on the PBS program “Bill Moyers’ Journal.”

“People with more money generally have healthier diets,” he said, “but affluent people who don't cook are not as healthy in their eating as poor people who still cook….If you don't have pots and pans, get them.”

Pollan, whose research is first-rate, didn’t cite a source for the statement, but, as someone who has eaten out most days of the week for over 20 years, the space where my gall bladder used to be certainly intuits the truth of his statement. Fast food like McDonald’s is just about universally recognized as unhealthy. (See the film “Super Size Me.”) But we increasingly learn that what passes for “fine dining” may be anything but fine from our health’s perspective, too.