What to eat…

I’m still working my way through Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” but there’s an article of his in today’s NYTimes Magazine that’s been screaming through the blogosphere. Just in case you haven’t heard about it, go read “Unhappy Meals.” (Thanks to bOINGbOING)

A quote: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I’ll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice. Like: A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat ‘food.’ Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”

(This really resonates with how we try to eat in our lives. We think of it as eating on the periphery of the supermarket… the fruits and veggies, milk and cheese, bread and meat… only delving into the aisles for “ingredients” like flour, beans, rice, spices. We DO eat a lot of pasta, but we’re going to try making our own soon… that’s for another post!)

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3 responses to “What to eat…

    • I’ve heard this argument. I’ve also lived with three kids on a one-income household, where we lived on a macrobiotic-inspired diet (my husband was raised macrobiotic). Lots of rice, beans, veggies, soy proteins… not very expensive at all. I think the problem is that people don’t want to/can’t cook for themselves, so they don’t buy ingredients… they buy already-made or prepackaged food and think this is their only choice.

      But I also know it’s not easy living on the edge. Another book I’ve been meaning to read is Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, where she tries to make a living on a minimum wage job.

  1. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    Heh. This has been my approach for a really really long time — pretty much for as long as i’ve been able to make my own philosophy about what to eat.

    I’d like to get around to reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, but haven’t yet. I suppsoe it might just feel like preaching to the choir to me.

    Two notes:
    1) I have tried to get a more equal balance between carbs and protien in my diet in the past few years. This has been spurred in part by my desire to be strong in my athletic pursuits, in part because i noted that carb-heavy breakfasts made me crash in the afternoon, and in part because i allow more meat in my diet, which makes it easier to find that balance.

    (Weirdly we’ve been eating very little pasta. But i don’t think thats on purpose.)

    2) I’ve lately been thinking about how being interested in food – really interested in food – what it does for us, where it comes from, how we make it, what it says about cultural and historical identies – seems very healthy to me. But being obsessed by food crosses a fine line into an eating disorder. Ascribing meaning to food beyond that of it being food usually seems very unhealthy to me. That is complex.

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