Who would’ve thought that food needed to be defended, especially in a country like the U.S.A. where it seems to be in abundance, but Michael Pollan wrote a whole book to defend food. Why does it need to be defended? Isn’t food more abundant and better than ever before? I think we can find those answers by looking around us.
One of the things that struck me the most when I moved to the U.S.A. was the amount of people that suffered from things like allergies, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, overweight, strokes, cancer and other diseases. But when one takes a look at what the average American eats it is not surprising why thigs are this way.
Michael Pollan writes that food needs to be defended because most of what we eat now is not food and the way we consume it – in front of the TV, in the car and increasingly alone- is not really eating. Most of us realize to certain degree that the food we consume is not very good for us, but I was aghast to learn how far the food industry has gone to make food disappear from the shelves and to cover it up. And you would think that those food companies would be looking after the health of their customers.
An example of this is the infamous high fructose corn syrup that now seems to be in every single food product you buy at the grocery store. And they still have the indecency to tell you that it isn’t bad for you with a straight face.
It shocked me to learn that a lot of foods are stripped off their natural nutrients to give them a longer shelf life, but then they just throw a couple of vitamins and minerals back to make them look “healthy”. Pollan warns us that when a food claims to be healthy, that is the first sign that it isn’t.
But the food industry is not the only one at blame here. We (I am including myself here) have lost the sense of cooking and good eating because of our lifestyles. This doesn’t mean that we need to spend hours preparing our meals with expensive ingredients. This only means that we need to rethink the way we cook and eat. After all, eating is one of our most basic needs in life and it can be one of the most enjoyable activities of the day (just look at the French, Italians and, why not, Mexicans). Spending a little bit more time preparing and enjoying your food is one of the most satisfying and best things you can do for your health.
What is Pollan’s conclusion? Very simple, eat food (nothing that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food), not too much (small meals during the day and a light, satisfying dinner with family or friends), mostly plants (in reality we don’t need anything else).
In defense of food is the best non-fiction book I’ve read this year. I highly recommend it to anybody who eats (or want to eat) food, the real kind.