In Defence of Food - Michael Pollan

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was so challenging I read it in a day and a half whilst taking notes. There were many 'oh, of course' moments - I like that in a book.

I enjoyed the history lesson it contained. The steady removal of food from our diets, replaced with 'food like substances'. Margarine being the first example of a non-food or imitation food being introduced. Margarine, said to be 'healthier', actually ended up, according to the author, containing trans fats which were more unhealthy than the fats that were trying to avoid in the butter. Pollan also describes margarine as able to include whatever the latest trend may be - 'now with vitamin A and D' or the latest one ' omega 3'. Whatever the trend, it can be added to your marg! I also enjoyed the idea of society being more overweight than ever in a 'low fat' world. I had to laugh at the idea of instead of eating a breakfast cereal that is 'now full of antioxidant' in the form of processed blueberry extract - just eat the blueberry!

Here are the principles from the book that we will take into consideration.

1. Don't eat anything your great grandma wouldn't recognise.

2. Avoid products containing ingredients that are: unfamiliar, unpronounceable, more than 5 in number, have high fructose corn syrup.

3. Avoid products that make health claims. ( usually an indication that it's a non-food. e.g the blueberry)

4. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle because this is where the 'food like' substances are. The real food tends to be around the edges.

5. Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. I love this idea - use the fruit shop, butchers, local deli etc.

6. Eat mostly plants, grown well from healthy soils.

7. Consider what what you eat eats.

8. Eat wild when you can

9. Be more French, Italian, Japanese, Indian or Greek in your eating style.

10. Regard non-traditional foods with scepticism.

11. Pay more, eat less. ( quality vs quantity)

12. Eat meals not snacks. ( remember when between meal snacking was a sin? LOL) How we have changed - or marketers have changed us!

13. Do all your eating at the table (Pollan says 1/5 of meals are eaten in the car! )

14. Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does. ( food sold at petrol stations isn't real food!)

15. Try not to eat alone.

16. Consult your gut.

17. Eat slowly ( as in the Slow Food movement)

18. Cook and plant a garden.

What do you think of the principles ? Are they something that you could consider implementing?
I think, looking at the principles, it would make a huge different to our budget and also the amount of packaging coming into our house. Considering that we are attempting to drastically reduce our 'outputs' this year, I think this list will be a great focus tool.


Barbara said...

I already implement all the
priciples but I question #1
since I cook and eat mostly
Asian food. My Anglo-Saxon
great grandmother wouldn't have
recognised kimchee or curry
paste but a Korean or Thai
great grandmother would!

BusyWoman said...

That's a great thought Barbara. Maybe we should change the wording to say 'don't eat food that wasn't around in the days of your great grandma'. That would encompass all the fantastic things we have been introduced to as a result of multiculturalism.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I was just revisiting this subject lately. When DH and I married (2002) he had BIG cholesterol problems. He and his ex had eaten nothing but white flour, margarine, processed foods, etc. for years. In I step with whole foods, whole grains, and the like. At his next check-up at the doctor, his cholesterol had dropped over 50 points! It is so low now that he had to lower his dose of Lipitor (for inherited cholesterol problems) because it got to the point where it was actually TOO LOW! What a testament for eating real food.

Leilani Lee said...

Excellent post. We are trying to implement all of these things. Last night I opened this little book of poetry and the very first one: "the youth who daily farther from the east/Must travel, still is nature's priest/And by the vision splendid... Brilliant blog title!

Tracy said...

A wonderful list!

changingways said...

Wonderful post, and one I am going to try to follow. Thank you.

Gavin said...

Great post BW. It has given me food for thought (pardon the pun). I will have to grab a copy of that book from the library. Sounds like a great read.


Anonymous said...

I too loved this book. I didn't make a list when I read though, so think I'll print out yours and use it. The thing that stuck in my mind was not to eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize. I already try to live by this type of motto. Thanks for refreshing it for me.

cheers Kate

Michelle said...

I am on the wait list at the library for this book. All the principles are great and really are just commonsense things that alot of us probably already know but mass media/marketing has convinced us there is a better/quicker way of eating.
Not sure if you've read Animal. Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver but it is a wonderful book that I think you would enjoy. She makes vegie growing sound like poetry.

Anonymous said...

Thank you BW for the information about this book. I've just put a hold on it through our local library. It will be good to have a read. I tell my girls constantly of the ways of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers, and we are trying to emulate their ways with real food and real cooking in our house. People do think it odd when you take the "long-way" around by choice!


Paola said...

I read In Defence of Food a few months ago. It really is a great prescription for how to eat, and really, how to live. I really think most people eat without thinking about the food they are eating, what's in it, how it got there and the resources needed to grow it. If people gave greater thought to these sorts of questions, the benefits for their bodies and the environment would speak for themselves.
In Defence of Food is quite an uplifting book. I have just finished Michael Pollan's prequel to this, The Omnivore's Dilemma. It is just as rivetting a read, if more downbeat.
Cheers, Paola