Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

That was Pollan’s mantra through out In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. This was an excellent follow-up to last month’s Bittman book. It is a full discussion of how food has left the western diet to be replaced by nutrients. Now, that may not make much sense unless you realize how Pollan defines food. It is NOT the processed chemicalized things people eat for most of our diet. So what do we eat if it’s not food. Consider his ‘rules of thumb’:

    Don’t eat anything your great grandmother would not recognize as food.

      Would she recognize Go-Gurt??

    Avoid food products containing ingredients that are (A) unfamiliar, (B) unpronounceable, (C) more than 5 in number, or that include (D) High Fructose Corn Syrup.

      Have you READ the ingredients in a simple loaf of bread lately?

    Avoid food products that make health claims.

      Don’t forget that trans-fat-rich margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim it was healthier than the traditional food it replaced, turned out to give peole heart attacks.”

    Shop the peripheries of the super market and stay out of the middle.

      That is where the fresh food is – dairy, fish, meat, produce. The REAL food. {And the produce IS the most important.}

    Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.

      FARMER’S MARKET, people. No weird ingredients, no processing, no high fructose corn syrup. NONE!!

Now in addition to food one should eat mostly plants. And mostly leaves. They won’t hurt you. And they contain the most nutritious ingredients. And the darker the better. Anti-oxidents, omega-3s, and as much diversity as possible. It is what man has eaten for more of his time on earth. Foraging came way before hunting.

But besides the mantra, Pollan discusses the fact that we have given our eating demands over to the government and scientists who basically have ruined us. We are heavier, unhealthier, and unhappier than we have ever been as a population. Fast food. Too much processing. Too much natural removed and replaced by too many fake ingredients. All because the government and nutritionists and reductionists and bad scientists think they know more than we do.

So, what do we do to save ourselves?

We pay more, eat less. We eat Meals instead of snacking 24/7. We eat at the table and not alone. We don’t buy food were we buy car fuel. We eat slowly and listen to our bodies. And we cook and plant our own food.

And I leave you witH TWO words. ORTHOREXIA NERVOSA

    “…an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.”

Not yet recognized by the DSM-IV as an eating disorder, but caused by the very people we depend on (as if we are too simple minded) to help guide us on our food pathways.

Thanks, Micheal, for giving me something to think about.

And, as I said with Bittman’s book, the people who really need to read this book won’t. But you should. You really should.

This was my choice this month for The Kitchen Reader. I am glad I chose it. Now on to Pollan’s other books.