Saturday, 29 October 2011

In Defense of Food: paraphrased

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Eat food:
Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
- Why great grandmother? Because to be safe, we need to go back at least a couple generations, to a time before the advent of most modern foods. (IE., would your great-grandmother be able to recognize yogurt-in-a-tube? Yogurt used to be milk inoculated with a bacterial culture)
- Sub-clause: Don't eat anything incapable of rotting.
Avoid foods products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup.
- All of these characteristics are reliable markers for foods that have been highly processed to the point where they may no longer be what they purport to be. the have crossed over from foods to food products. Bread used to be simply flour, yeast, water, and a pinch of salt. Go take a look at your bread's ingredient list.
Avoid food products that make health claims.
- For a food product to make health claims on it's package it first must have a package, ie. it's already likely to be a processed than a whole food. And the health claims don't mean much.
Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
- Most supermarkets are laid out in the same way: Processed food products dominate the middle, while the cases of ostensibly fresh food - dairy, produce, meat, and fish - line the walls.
Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.
- You won't find any processed foods at farmers' markets, and what you will find are fresh whole foods picked at the peak of their taste and nutritional quality. Get to know your farmers; that's how trust is built.
- Sub-clause: Shake the hand that feeds you.

Mostly plants:
Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
- Scientists may disagree about what's so good about eating plants, but they do agree that plants are probably really good for you, and certainly can't hurt. There are literally scores of studies demonstrating that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of dying from all the Western diseases. But remember, meat is nutritious food, supplying all the essential amino acids as well as many vitamins and minerals. Just don't eat too much.
You are what you eat eats too.
- That is, the diet of the animals we eat has a bearing on the nutritional quality, and the healthfulness, of the food itself, whether it is meat or milk or eggs. All creatures that we eat are much healthier when they have access to green plants, and some are simply meant to only eat green plants, such as cows and sheep, who are meant to eat only grass. They have much higher nutritional levels too.
If you have the space, buy a freezer.
- When you find a good source of pastured meat, you'll want to buy in quantity. Also allows to buy in bulk from farmers market and freeze the food.
Eat like an omnivore.
- Eat more species of food. The greater the diversity of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional requirements. Also, eating in greater biodiversity means a greater biodiversity is grown, which is healthier for the soil, plants, animals, and environment, and thus you.
Eat well-grown food from healthy soils.
- This can be organic or not. Also, highly processed "organic" foods are little better than conventional food (organic oreos anyone?)
Eat wild foods when you can.
- Many wild greens and meat are highly healthful for us. However, one must take care not to eat too much of wild foods, as many, especially fish and certain types of plants are seriously endangered.
Be the kind of person who takes supplements.
- People who take supplements are generally healthier, but most studies show that the supplements don't appear to work. Said supplement takers tend to be more health conscious, better educated, and more affluent. So be like them, but save your money.
Eat more like the French or the Italian. Or the Japanese. Or the Indian. Or the Greek.
- People who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally much healthier than people eating a contemporary Western diet. There are two dimensions to a traditional diet - the foods a culture eats and how they eat them - and both may be equally important to our health.
Don't look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet.
- In the same way that foods are more than the sum of their nutrient parts, dietary patterns seems to be more than the sum of the foods that comprise them.
Have a glass of wine with dinner.
- Alcohol of any kind appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, but the polyphenols in res wine appear to have unique protective qualities. Experts recommend no more than two drinks a day for men, and one for women. Drinking a little every day is better than all at once on the weekend, and drinking with food is better than without it.

Not too much.
Pay more, eat less.
- Pay for quality, instead of quantity - you'll get more nutrients for your buck. Also, if you pay more for it, you're apt to eat less of it. Pay attention to your body, and stop when you're full. Maybe don't go back for seconds. Spend more time on making the food. If you can find the money for TV, internet, second phone line, second (third, fourth, fifth) vehicle, then you can find the money for higher quality food. You might have to cut out one of those things, but are they really needed? Also, if you eat better, higher quality food, you'll have less health problems.
Eat meals.
- Don't snack. Eating meals is a way of socializing and civilizing our children, teaching them manners and the art of conversation. At the dinner table parents can determine portion sizes, model eating and drinking behaviour, and enforce social norms about greed and gluttony and waste. Eating a meal fuels culture.
Do all your eating at a table.
- No, a desk is not a table.
Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.
- Except for the milk and water, food from gas stations are highly processed.
Try not to eat alone.
- Light eaters eat more, and heavy eaters eat less. (If only because we're less likely to stuff ourselves in front of others.) When we eat mindlessly [in front of the TV] and alone, we eat more. Eating together also elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to the ritual of family and community - culture.
Consult your gut.
- Pay attention to your body. Am I really still hungry? Eat slower - it takes about 20 minutes before the brain gets the word that the belly is full. If you take less than that to eat, how will you know? Until you're able to pay attention to your body, try other ways. Serve smaller portions on smaller plates; serve food and beverages from small containers; use glasses that are vertical than horizontal; leave healthy foods in view, unhealthy ones out of view; leave serving bowls in the kitchen rather than on the table to discourage second helpings.
Eat slowly.
- Not just so you'll be more likely to know when to stop. Slow in the sense of deliberate and knowledgeable eating. Eat with a fuller knowledge of all that is involved in bringing a food out of the earth and to the table. Eat from freedom, instead of compulsion. Offer some sort of blessing over the food or grace before the meal, or words that make one reflect on the food.
Cook if you can, and plant a garden.
- To take part in the intricate and endlessly interesting processes of providing for our sustenance is the surest way to escape the culture of fast food and the values implicit in it: that food should be fast, cheap, and easy; that food is a product of industry, not nature; that food is fuel, and not a form of communion, with other people as well as with other species - with nature.

All of this information come from the book In defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. Most of this is strictly from the third part, chapters two to four (pages 147-201). Much of it is copied verbatim. None of it is my own work, and is provided here strictly for information's sake. I strongly encourage one to read the actual book, as it goes in to a great deal more depth, and is quite fascinating.

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