From: In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto
Michael Pollan: also Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules
Confused about what to eat? You are not the only one. I spend countless hours reviewing articles, books, podcasts in order to answer the simple question: What should I feed my family?
Dissecting the sociopolitical arena on food, Pollan explores why we are eating food that is making us sick.
By looking at the best ethical and ecological choices, the end results seems to be congruent with the healthiest choices as well.
Should we be eating foods that are ‘processed’, ‘factory-farmed’ or food from a ‘confined area feed lot’?
Should we trust our dieticians, nutritionists, doctors, bloggers, podcasts, media or Dr. Google?
Should we fear fat? (you may watch Peter Attia’s The Straight Dope on Cholesterol, listen to Chris Masterjohn’s everything you need to know about cholesterol and saturated fat or read Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat to be aware of alternative ideas on fat and your health)
Pollan recommends that we look at our grandparents cooking. Why not our parents? Because in the 1960s, the official scientific opinion was that animal fat was a deadly substance. This was the advent of the ’healthy’ low-fat, high hydrogenated oil/carbohydrate diet and the beginning of an obesity epidemic.
He also discusses the term ‘orthorexia’: an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Personally, I would replace ‘unhealthy obsession’ with passion. I have come to realize that I paid a handsome amount of money to a university to teach me nutrition principles that are based on financial interests. I also understand that change is inevitable. Dietary guidelines are a moving target and we do our best with what we know at the time but we must continue to educate ourselves. Who is responsible for my family’s health anyway?
Pollan doesn’t specifically tell you what to eat but provides some rules that will help guide you on your path. At home, I periodically check in to see how close I am the to these rules. We include most of the following in our nutrition workshops we have provided our community for the last few years. These rules include:
- Stop eating a western diet
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
- Avoid food products containing ingredients that are unpronounceable, unfamiliar, more than five in number or that include high fructose corn syrup
- Avoid food products that make health claims
- Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and avoid the middle
- Go to farmer’s markets instead of supermarkets
- Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
- You are what what you eat eats too (not a typo!)
- If you have the space, buy a freezer
- Eat like an omnivore
- Eat well-grown foods from healthy soils
- Eat wild foods when you can
- Be the kind of person who takes supplements
- Eat more like the French, Italians, Japanese, Indians or the Greeks
- Regard non-traditional foods with skepticism
- Have a glass of wine with dinner
- Pay more, eat less
- Do all the eating at the table
- Don’t get fuel from the same place your car does
- Try not to eat alone
- Consult your gut
- Eat slowly
- Cook and if you can, plant a garden
Happy gardening! I currently have my hands quite full so I will eagerly await my weekly bounty at my local CSA.