One man’s ‘superfood’ is another man’s tripe. Here Matt Preston counts the ways he has failed to jump on the latest faddish bandwagons.
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FORGIVE me, dear food-loving reader, for I have sinned. It has come to my attention that in the course of my daily life – driving the kids to sporting fixtures, earning a crust, packing the dishwasher and trying not to say anything stupid – I might have failed to follow, slavishly at least, the trends that all the coolest culinary hepcats are talking about.
So here are the sins I’d like to confess to – transgressions that I know mark me down as not being new-superfood cool.
I HAVEN’T GOT ANY SUSTAINABLE ALGAE OIL IN MY PANTRY
I don’t know why I don’t because algae grown in a fermenter, fed on sugar and pressed to release an oil that, once refined, is light, neutral and slightly nutty sounds sooo delicious. Still, the enthusiasts claim it’s higher in (good) monounsaturated fats than olive oil and has only four per cent (bad) saturated fat compared with coconut oil, which has anywhere from 82 to 92 per cent, depending on what you read.And I once ate a rather tasty plankton risotto (think of the flavour of seaweed and mussel juice combined), which was the signature dish of Aponiente in Cádiz. It was made with their own home-grown plankton, so that’s not all that different, really, is it?
I HAVEN’T SECURED A RELIABLE SUPPLIER OF MANKAI
I’d love to be all about this Asian watermeal. It’s a strain of edible duckweed (Wolffia globosa) grown in ponds and slow-moving waterways in Northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. It’s eaten as chips, breads and in soups or stir-fries. Apparently pham, as it is called there, contains all the nine essential and six conditional amino acids – but it looks like I’ll have to move to an Isaan village to secure my own supply.
I DON’T USE NUTRITIONAL YEAST ON MY SPAG BOL
A number of things stand in the way of me becoming a vegan – my love of cheese (along with bacon) is among the biggest obstacles and it’s parmesan all the way when it comes to pasta. And because I eat that sort of boring old balanced Aussie diet of lots of vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds, and a mix of different proteins, I’m lucky enough not to have to start the day with a cocktail of expensive pills and supplements. Still, if I was a vegan, I’m sure I would embrace this salty and slightly cheesy-tasting dead yeast as my ‘vegan support formula’. After all, it’s grown on molasses and that’s what they make rum out of.
I DON’T WORSHIP PROTEIN
Protein is very trendy in some quarters, yet it’s also drifting back into being seen as a bad guy, not least because of the worrisome environmental impact and ethical concerns of some of its production and harvesting, and docos such as Forks Over Knives, which advocates rejecting animal-based proteins for health reasons. I’ll leave you to do your due diligence on this one, but remember that a large number of the negatives associated with a high-protein diet are more about what you leave out of your diet (namely vegetables and whole grains) in favour of that extra protein. And let’s not even start on the $8 billion global market for protein supplements.
I’M NOT SURE I HAVE ENOUGH ADAPTOGENS IN MY DIET
This whole panic started when someone asked me if I was getting enough of the plants or herbs that some alternative health practitioners claim can help the body adapt to stress possibly by ‘recharging’ the adrenal glands. I was immediately gripped with a true hypochondriac male’s fear that an oversight in adopting adaptogens might be ruining my health and dramatically cutting short my life. I suspected I probably wouldn’t be feeling so stressed if I was enjoying my daily intake of ashwagandha, astragalus and ginseng.While fungi such as reishi, cordyceps and maitake were also limited to, err, zero per cent of my diet. Thank heavens, then, for the good news that the liquorice-root tea I drink before bed and the shiitake I grind into my mushroom risotto are all, probably, adaptogen-heavy. So, crisis averted. Whatever your idea of ‘superfood’, you’ll find plenty of inspiration on delicious.com.au.