What to Know About Clean Eating

You may never have asked yourself, “How dirty is my diet?” But dieticians and devotees of a growing food movement are telling consumers to clean it up.

Thanks to the recent release of the documentary “Fed Up,” the Clean Eating movement is gaining notoriety among health-conscious dieters. And, while the push for clean eating has been going on for decades, only recently has the phrase become buzz-worthy.

But, aside from Couric’s incomprehensibly bubbly narration, what does the Clean Eating movement really entail? And, why are celebrity chefs giving it their stamp of approval like it’s the next best thing since the Vitamix?

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Though there are a multitude of personalized approaches to degrimed dining, a few basic principles and practices dictate what is and isn’t squeaky clean.

First and foremost, clean eaters always read food labels. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce one or more of the ingredients on the label, put it neatly back on the shelf and walk away. That’s right, you with the Oreos, I’m talking to you.

Of course, not being able to purchase and methodically devour your favorite packaged desserts might cause some initial feelings of loss and longing. But, clean eaters offer you a solution to the Moon Pie blues.

Do-It-Yourself. Thanks to an abundancy of blogs, magazines, and cookbooks all devoted to the cause, there are clean recipes available for at-home alternatives to your favorite pre-packaged, store-bought foods.

When creating your own clean recipes and meals, aim to include a minimal amount of high-quality, organic ingredients. Not only does clean eating encourage you to know what’s in your food, it encourages you to know where your food came from.

We know; you thought familiarity with your corner bodega was knowledge enough. But, unfortunately, buying cereal from the night shift guy on your way back from the bar doesn’t quite count as responsible shopping.

Getting to know butchers, organic purveyors, and the cheese guy at your local famers market are all essential steps in detoxing your diet. Eating clean doesn’t necessarily involve restricting what you eat, just improving the quality of what you eat. So, produce, meat, dairy, and grains are all still on the table.

These basic rules are designed to simplify and purify the food that’s fueling your body—to cut out the additives and preservatives that are essential elements in pre-packaged “Big Food” products. In that sense, Clean Eating is a kind of nostalgia for the mid-century Americana snapshot of mom in the kitchen, preparing dinner for the family.

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Picture it. The roast was purchased from the local butcher and the produce sourced from wherever people got produce before supermarkets. The sauce for the roast is a natural jus, made from pan drippings and unfertilized mirepoix; and, the non-GMO potatoes are mashed with fresh herbs from the garden and cream from the local dairy farm.

It would be easy to dismiss that image as quaint; but, admittedly, isn’t that what we all want to sit down to after a long day? Maybe that’s why Clean Eating has managed to capture, at least for the moment, a small part of the American popular imagination.

Sure, we don’t all have the time or money to always eat, breathe, and cook clean. But, placing that gleaming package of artificially colored cookies back on the shelf isn’t that hard. Is it?

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