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Been There Done That, You?

November 12, 2012

I finally read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. It’s full of a lot of information that supports his opening (and closing) statement: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”.

Eat food is well explained. After all,it would be pretty normal to think, I HAVE been eating food! But no, like Velveeta, we haven’t. Much of what has been in our diet the past 20 years is not “food”  but “food products” containing a minimum of 51% of what you THINK you are eating and a whole lot of other things too.

Because of changes in the way the United States permits commercial farming and food production, much….maybe I could even same MOST… of the stuff you can buy in the supermarket lost a lot of its natural nutrition. For example, the apple we eat today typically does NOT have the same nutritional content that an apple had 100 years ago. Like the newer larger apple, we have become accustomed to eating MORE, getting more calories but not necessarily more nutrition.

From the land not being treated well so nutrition is no longer obtained through the soil in the quantities it was only 2 or 3 generations ago to the way grains are processed in almost all offerings so the germ is processed out, food just doesn’t reach us the same way.

He uses a package of Go-Gurt portable yogurt as an example.  Granny would never recognize it as yogurt, And you believe it is. I know I bought plenty for my kid to pack for lunch years ago, thinking I was doing great to give him something healthy. And yes, there is some yogurt in there. There is also high-fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, kosher gelatin, carrageenan, tricalcium phosphate, nature and artificial flavors, vitamins and more..let alone what goes into “berry bubblegum”. Or what makes it “glow in the dark.”

So, just as you get really really scared about what you have been doing in the hope of providing good food choices for your family and yourself, Pollan makes suggestions:

1. Don’t eat anything your grandmother would not recognize.

2. Avoid food products that have ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable,   more than 5 in number and includes high-fructose corn syrup.

3. Avoid food products that make health claims. If the announcement is made that the product is good for you, be skeptical that the testing was not in your best interest but the manufacturer’s business interest. Since 2002, the FDA even has had a new term called “qualified” approval which sounds like someone with superior credentials tested something and found it worthy. However, it is about the opposite, meaning it is not fully supported by testing. And think people…if the Frito-Lay corn chips say they provide an ingredient that is part of a healthy diet, wonder what that ingredient is and how to obtain the diet so it can be healthy. And one more consideration:    if it advertises added vitamins and minerals that are healthy…wonder why they had to be ADDED. And consider the other items included in that food product that you are throwing into your diet and your body.
4. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. The middle aisles are where the priocessed food is and the peripheries have the produce, dairy and meats. Actually since I’ve been shopping at The Wild Ramp Market, I only go to the supermarket to get cleaning supplies and paper towels and only a few ingredients needed to complete some recipe.

5. Get out of the supermarket. Yup…go to the Wild Ramp or the farmers’ market in season, or make an arrangement with a local farmer for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box and purchase your meat directly from the farm.

To find out what he means by “Not too much” and “Mostly plants” go borrow a copy of the book from the local library. As soon as the Wild Ramp Community Room is finished, there will be a small lending library there also which will contain this book as well as others you might find informative and life changing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2012 10:59 pm

    Love all of Pollan’s books. He is such a wealth of information and he makes it all so interesting. Was “In Defence” the one where he mentions the green teeth? LOL

    • November 13, 2012 10:02 am

      Yeah! Amazing that the guy with the green teeth had no decay!

  2. November 13, 2012 7:07 pm

    I read this book when it came out – by then, I’d pretty much had my epiphany about “real” food via my interest in Salatin’s methods, so I was already a convert, but the pithy line on the front cover really sticks in my brain and makes it easy for me to focus any discussion I get into about this issue.

    When we were preparing for a Hallowe’en party a couple of weeks ago, my daughter needed ingredients for a pudding parfait. We got lost in the grocery store, since neither of us knew where to look for pudding mix! We got pointed in the right direction by a store clerk and then got mired in the sheer variety – cooked, instant, pie filling (pudding pie???). I couldn’t believe it’s only been 7 years since I bought stuff like this all the time. But it’s true. I guess I’ve come further than I realized.

    • November 14, 2012 12:18 pm

      I’ve noticed a major difference in the freezer section from the time I first started grocery shopping to now. I remember as a kid that once or twice a year, in order to watch some movie (like the Wizard of Oz) that came on only once a year, my mom would pop aluminum foil trays for a “tv dinner” in the oven and we would eat them on small portable tables in the living room. Now, frozen meals are so varied that I am not surprised that many people do not learn to cook. But there are two factors that they need to consider, especially if they really like that microwaved meal: 1. it is full of chemicals that the real thing does not contain and 2. the real thing tastes a whole lot better!

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