Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eat Food, Not too much, Mostly Plants

I had the honor of hearing my future husband Michael Pollan speak last night. The Friends of the West Roxbury library had a great month-long series of discussions and workshops on sustainable eating, culminating in this lecture. So I went public-transit hopping way out to West Roxbury.

If you haven't read Pollan's books, namely "Omnivore's Delimma" and "In Defense of Food" Get out and buy/rent them!! I agree completely with almost everything he argues, and his writing is so easy to read! The auditorium was stuffed with exuberant fans/sustainable/local foodies [the type that claps when phrases like "regional food systems" are spoken]-Pollan is like a rockstar in these crowds.
Here's a summary of the lecture:
He started off talking about the basic American "ideologies" concerning food, in specific, "nutritionism" and the unspoken assumptions we carry towards food. Nutritionism, he says, is a way of thinking that states:
1. nutrients are more important than food. It is a reductionist science, that insinuates that food gets in the way of the more important stuff, like vitamins, minerals, antioxidents, etc.
2. if above is true, and you can't see those things, than you need an expert to know what to eat-aka a team of scientists, doctors and nutritionists to tell you what you need. a "priesthood of food." [yes, I do plan on being one of these priestesses]
3. foods are divided into good and bad. Protagonists and antagonists come and go, but there will always be a war. [Hero of the day= Antioxidants/O-3 Today's Villain=Trans-Fat]
4. the entire point of eating is health. you are either improving or ruining your health. [no focus on pleasure, community, friendship, family, conversations, as in centuries past]
In an attack on nutritionism he said, "I guess we could put up with this if it worked," but as long as we have been taking this reductionist point of view, and following the religion of nutritionism's crusades-[Low-Fat lifestyle!!]-Americans have gotten subsequently fatter. Why doesn't it work? Because it gives a free pass to the "good" nutrients-leading us to binge on refined carbohydrates, and sugars. That Fat-free cookie isn't going to help your health or waistline if you eat an entire package.Yes the Western Diet is bad, and leads to chronic disease, in fact 40% of cancers today are diet-related. But we need to change our approach to changing the way Americans eat. We need to take a step back from the chemical, and molecular level and look at the entirety of what we are eating.

So he's complying "food rules" [if you have any, send them over to]
-Don't eat anything you've ever seen on television
-The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead
-eat all the junk food you want, provided you make it yourself
-eat until you are 80% full

Those all sound good to me! I'm glad I got a chance to see him speak! My life has drastically improved since finals have ended. The Future of Food Conference was great-I'll write about that asap! I just started working at Clear Flour, which I love!! I'm keeping plenty busy-exercising, re-organizing my life, doing things around the city I've been putting off. Next on the agenda-make my own saurkrat and kimchee!! This is going to be a great summer!

And just for fun here's a clip of two of my favorite men: Michael Pollan on Colbert Report

Hope you had a wonderful wednesday!


The Happy Runner said...

You are so lucky! I am reading In Defense of Food right now and I'm so into it. He's a terrific writer and his whole concept is so interesting. It is really helping me reshape the way I eat.

Annabelle Ho said...

I'm SO glad we were able to see Michael Pollan!!! I like the Japanese quotation, "eat until you are 80% full." And I can't wait to visit Clear Flour!!!