Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Food Rules"

I just listened to Pollan discuss his new book today on On Point and found myself very surprised to agree with him for once!

My second biggest complaint* with the modern food movement is the obsessive focus on optimizing food for perfect health - the medicalization of food. In previous works, Pollan seemed to sympathize with the idea that our food and environment are so incredibly full of poisons that the only way to live a healthy life is to develop a religious dedication to your diet. I think the last thing well-off, educated Westerners need is another self-absorbing thing to worry about - the world would be a better place if people weren't so wrapped up in their own lives that they remain blind to the things that really matter.

I'm glad to hear his recent proselytizing is more focused on just eating diversely and in moderation and explicitly counters the idea that there's some magical perfect diet that will solve all your problems. He even made reference to the fact that many cultures have lived for thousands of years on all kinds of extreme diets and done just fine. He emphasized that traditional diets, even extreme ones, are probably a lot better for you than living on fast food. He concluded that just cooking for your family and not worrying about the details too much is probably the best thing you can do - chances are you'll eat well most of the time and won't put in the effort to constantly surround yourself with rich desserts and fried food. Speaking of which, I need to get home and deal with yesterday's bread before it goes stale...

I'm all for a food culture that celebrates traditions and DIY competence over neurotic philosophy and fad diets!

* no. 1 is the reliance on intuition over evidence


  1. Hi Mat,
    I just discovered your blog and love it! Are you on Twitter? There are some great #agchat #foodchat forums-if you will, on there now. There are lots of ag people, farmers, etc. I'm SeasLife on Twitter.

  2. Thanks! I'm not on Twitter now but I'll keep those in mind.

  3. I've gotta agree here too. Assuming your lifestyle allows you enough time to do it, simply cooking for yourself (or friends/family cooking for each other) has gotta be one of the simplest, most cost effective ways of developing a healthy diet.

    Bonus points for him pointing out that lots of cultures have lived on wildly different diets for generations without suffering from it. The human digestive system (in fact the whole human organism) is a marvel of adaptability.

  4. Agreed about the annoyingness of obsessive diets! What a waste of time.

  5. Hey MAT, I would love to hear your thoughts on this: Cheers!

  6. Hmm... It seems to me that there's no shortage of organic waste in the world. Maybe we can close the loop some. If you don't need synthetic fertilizers to garden, I'm sure we can grow crops without it - hopefully not much more expensively... In the meantime it's just another reason to increase efficiency!



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