Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Defense of Food

I am becoming a die hard Michael Pollan fan. He is a wonderful writer (as most journalists are), but the information he gives answers SO many questions!

In the book "In Defense of Food" he attaches on to something he only touched on in "The Omnivore's Dilemma"... What to actually eat.

Oh yes, you can look at a food pyramid or an FDA guideline, based on sketchy facts, and supported by the industrial food industry. But when you know enough not to trust that 100%... where do you look to know what to eat?

This is the question he tackles. The rules he gives are not based on scientific evidence, but by the thousands of years that people have survived without the current eating disorders of the 'Western Diet' and the diseases that go along with it.

The 'rules' are fairly simple, once you understand what is meant by them:

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

By "eat food", he means 'eat food that your great-great-grandmother would recognise'. There are not many industrial food products that would pass that test. Oatmeal? Corn meal? Yes. High fructose corn syrup? Go-gurt? Not so much.

"Not too much" is pretty self explanatory.

"Mostly plants" is the rule that is backed up by literally hundreds of years of meat being a side dish, or condiment instead of the main course and how our health has deteriorated from meat pushing the veggies right off our plates. This part also talks about the way our food chain has moved from 'leaves to seeds' and how this has effected every bit of that food chain, from the health of our meat cattle, to the health of our hearts.

Notice how he didn't go into vitamins, or 'nutrients' in his rules? In fact, in the book, he goes into those scientific specifics in great detail.... but not to the expense of the rules. You don't need to know how much more vitamin C is in your gardens romaine lettuce than the lettuce shipped from a thousand miles away to benefit from eating it. Taking food rules out of mom's kitchen and into the laboratory did more harm than good.

All in all, it is a light, if a bit scientific, read that has answered all sorts of questions I had about our culture and what the years of scientific nutrition study have done to our food habits. And, as with most of his books, In Defense of Food brings to the forefront a need to think about food differently. Bringing it from a place for overindulgence and nutrient specifics, to a cultural artery, so to speak.... to a place where eating is a relationship that will last a healthy lifetime.

1 comment

Flavia said...

Yeah Im a fan too! Im actually doing an experiment on myself to see if this way of eating makes a huge difference or not...check out my blog :)

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