I enjoyed To Market To Market To Buy a Fat Pig because it was really focused on eating regionally and seasonally. It showcased several farmers markets and interviewed the people who work and shop there. The available products ranged from fresh fruit and vegetables, to cuts of meat butchered to order, to honey and flowers, and more. There was a remarkable quality to everything - no chemical preservatives, nothing artificial. One of my major hurdles is trying to consume fewer processed foods, which is much more difficult than you would think! Sometimes, at the end of a hard day, all you want to do is lay back and have cookies or crackers and cheese. I'm a huge sucker for cheese, in every incarnation - it's quite possibly my favorite food. Learning to limit myself is exceptionally tough. Besides cheese, I have given up buying bread. I like to have sandwiches for lunches and all, but more often than not, the bread never made it to a lunch - it was late-night slices of bread and butter or cinnamon and sugar toast. I have a few recipes for bread (including a French bread that I tried quite successfully), and while the process is not difficult, it is time-consuming. This makes it easier to label it a "sometimes" food.
Another show I watched was The Meaning of Food, a three-part documentary focusing on the relationship of food to life, family, and culture. It was really interesting to see how different societies and cultures use food not only as fuel, but as part of their traditions. One of my favorite scenes was in the first part where cookbook author and TV chef Nigella Lawson is reading aloud from M.F.K. Fisher's "The Art of Eating," a book I am currently reading. It's actually a collection of books, and in them, Fisher discusses not only the food itself, but life and love and emotion. While watching the shows, I thought about my trips to Paris and how different meals were for me there versus back here in the States. It's partly due to being on vacation, I'm sure, but for some reason, it always feels like there are so many more hours in each day when I am in France. On my last trip, in June 2009, I would wake up every morning, walk about half a block to a boulangerie/patisserie for a morning pastry, then stroll through the jardin de Luxembourg, savoring the tastes and watching the day begin. Back home, I'm lucky if I can find the time for a cup of yogurt!
Overall, though, I think the most influential documentary I saw was called Fat: What No One is Telling You. Through interviews with doctors, scientists, and people going through the weight loss process, this documentary showed what I felt to be a really honest depiction of the emotions and the struggles, not only with being overweight and trying to lose, but with simply living life as an overweight or obese person. The interview subjects spoke very candidly about their history of weight gain and loss, and there was a strange comfort in knowing that someone else out there has had familiar experiences and knows what it feels like to be me. One woman got very emotional talking about being on an airplane, getting assigned a middle seat, and spending most of the flight apologizing to the people around her; a young man talked about how ashamed he was that his addiction was so visible. There was a married couple who was trying to lose weight and get pregnant - they got personal trainers and met with food therapists and dieticians - and it shocked me when, post-meeting, they spoke with each other about their new food plans: they didn't even know how to cook chicken or any ways to prepare vegetables! I know what I need to do, I just need to make sure I keep on track and actually do it.
There was a study done in the 1950s of people who entered treatment programs for weight loss. The research showed that most of the people in the program quit; most of those who stayed did not lose weight; most of those who lost weight did not maintain losses. The narrator pointed this out and cited an updated study that shows that, over fifty years later, the statistics are not all that different. She called this the "grim shadow behind weight loss efforts" - if the odds are not in your favor, why bother putting in the effort to try? During a scene with the married couple and their therapist, the latter said that, at some point, it finally hits you that "it's not about how far it is across the stream, it's about how bad you want to be on the other side."
So, in closing, I think I got a lot of great ideas from these shows, not only about food, but about all the lifestyle changes and how to transition into someone who is actively trying to do something about her weight. I'll leave you with a few great quotes from Fat: What No One is Telling You:
"Every time you put food in your mouth it's a tough part. It's different than having other addictions like drugs, because you don't need to do that to sustain life. But you need food just to live on a day-to-day basis, you have to constantly make choices on what you're eating. Every time you eat and make that choice, it's tough. Are you gonna eat McDonald's or are you going to eat a chicken breast and a salad? So you can look at it that way, or you can look at it like it's a beautiful thing that every three or four or five hours, when you're hungry, you have a whole new choice. You have a whole new lease on life. It's almost like you're given this brand new moment every time you're hungry." Mary Dimino
"It's not easy. It's a life commitment, and that's not to be taken with a grain of salt. You're going to fail, and you're going to get back on. I think that a lot of programs are like, 'Oh! Just do this and then you're good and you go back to your life.' You don't go back to your life. I mean this is your life." Carla Hurd