in defense of food

This summer, in anticipation of living in the apartments, I read Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, in which he provides a thoughtful perspective on the industrialization of eating, the advent of what he refers to as “nutritionism,” and the pitfalls of the modern Western diet. (His manifesto is:  Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.) It’s an interesting and thought-provoking work, although Pollan sometimes can be pseudo-scientific. I found the last chapter, in which he provides a few practical suggestions for eating healthily, to be the most helpful. Here are just a few for you to think about next time you are grocery shopping:

1. Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup. (Is it food if you cannot identify what it came from – or is it just a “food product”?)

2. Avoid food products that make health claims. (It means, first of all, that the food is packaged enough to have a label on it, and probably that the food is altered from its original nature.)

3. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. (In most stores, processed foods dominate the central aisles, whereas “fresh” food is often along the walls.)

4. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. (While there are still local produce stands around, take advantage of them!)

5. Pay more, eat less. (“Choose quality over quantity, food experience over mere calories.”)

If you would like to read more about this, I have a copy of Pollan’s book in my apartment, and would be glad to loan it to anyone who is interested!

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