Food is such an intensley personal subject, and so many factors go into decisions about what to eat. I want to share my approach, with the understanding that these my thoughts and opinions. I strive to eat real, wholesome and preferably whole (meaning minimally or unprocessed) foods. While I'm not perfect on this front, it's a constant goal. I like to prepare my own day-to-day meals as much as possible, although making the time is challenging and I wish I succeeded more often. I cook seasonally as much as possible, subscribe to a CSA, and frequent the Greenmarkets (NYC's farmers markets). I subscribe to "all things in moderation" and when I indulge, I indulge well.
My approach to food and eating well started with my parents. My mom was focused on natural and organic ingredients long before Whole Foods hit the scene, when she would seek out small natural food markets around town. She underscored early the importance of using the best quality ingredients that you can find and afford, and was the driving force behind our first family CSA back in the '90s. My dad is a physician, and he has always emphasized using real ingredients (i.e. real butter rather than margarine, no artificial sweeteners), with the idea that our bodies don't know how to process substitutes.
Beyond my parents, Alice Waters, Mark Bittman, and Michael Pollan have had the biggest influence on how I think about food, cooking, and what to eat. My parents gave me The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters when I got my first apartment. My adventures cooking through that book (the first cookbook I owned) reinforced the perspective that you should find the best possible ingredients in season and then not do too much to them. I've found that to be true - almost any vegetable roasted with a little olive oil and salt tastes delicious. (On a related note, I am DYING to visit her restaurant, Chez Panisse.)
For many years I read and absolutely loved Mark Bittman's The Minimalist column and its simple, unfussy approach to cooking. Now, I enjoy following his various opinion pieces and columns for the New York Times. I love to mine the archive of Mark Bittman recipes on NYT Cooking and am a terrific fan of his book How to Cook Everything, which carries a straightforward, uncluttered approach to home cooking across many categories and cuisines.
My mom deserves credit for introducing me to Michael's Pollan's writing on food and for encouraging me to read The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Rules. Michael Pollan is the mind behind many sensible, memorable quotes that both shape and articulate my views on how to eat. One of my favorite pieces of advice from Michael Pollan is to avoid anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. My great-grandmother ran a farm in Ohio, and I love using that advice as a bellwether test. Another favorite Michael Pollan gem is to break the rules once in a while, and don't beat yourself up over it.
p.s. You may have heard me mention a few of these cookbooks before in this post.