Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. The memorable words written by Michael Pollan is his book “In Defense of Food” and repeated in the documentary film of the same name. But what does that mean, “eat food”? Isn’t that what we all eat? Are there any other options? Unfortunately, there are.
In pursuit of lower price, convenience, longer shelf life, and in some cases, nutrition, food is tinkered with to the point where it’s no longer a product of nature, but rather a “food-like substance” or “franken-food”. It looks like the original food, so we still call it “food” (although this isn’t necessarily always a requirement – hello Ringolos!). The other day I was at the grocery store checkout when I looked over and saw a bag of organic banana chip snack things. They were labelled as an ideal snack. I asked out loud to no one in particular, “Couldn’t you just have a banana?” Yes, you could, but the marketing convinces us that this snack is fun, healthy, and convenient.
We've lost the sense of what real food is in many ways. We've allowed ourselves (and our senses) to be confused and misled by the food industry and flawed nutrition science. There is a disconnect between us and our food. As Pollan pointed out, we seem to think our health is somehow detached from the health of our food chain. That we are separate from what we put into our bodies. I don’t know why or how this started (I have my theories though). Yet, I’ve observed that we don’t have the same respect for food and reverence for the act of eating that we once did.
“We've allowed ourselves (and our senses) to be confused and misled by the food industry and flawed nutrition science."
We’ve all consumed these types of “foods”; it’s hard to avoid it. Try finding a package of tortillas where the ingredient list isn’t an essay in length and without some weirdo stuff added in. It isn’t easy. Although, I have to say it’s getting better.
At the end of the day, what I encourage you to do is take a moment to read the ingredient labels. And if it has questionable items that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce, put the product down. There are always other options. We’re fortunate that nowadays many food companies are answering the call of the real food movement with products that contain a short list of real food ingredients that are minimally processed. You just have to be willing to seek them out. You and your loved ones are worth the extra effort! Or better yet, go with more of those single ingredient whole foods that have no labels at all – fruits and vegetables. These conscious choices will serve you well in the long-run by lowering your risk of developing the chronic diseases associated with the modern Western diet. Don’t buy into the confusion the food industry and nutritional science has created. It serves them well, not you.
What do you think about the statement, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”? Share your comments below.
Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food. Penguin, 2010. Print.