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In Defense of Food

January 29, 2008

I have just finished "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan, and highly recommend it to every Kitchen Caravaner. After reading the book, I feel an even stronger sense of purpose in what Emma and I are doing with our show. The book explains and defends Pollan's beliefs in how people should eat: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." These may seem like very simple statements, but in the United States today, we have to get back to the basics and start from scratch when it comes to nutrition. The fact that he has to even say "eat food" is ridiculous, but the frightening reality is that, as he points out, there are an overwhelmingly large number of food products out there that are not made with anything found in nature. Pollan explains how the overabundance of high fructose corn syrup and soy beans in the American diet are making us sick, and how our food culture also contributes to our ever declining health as a population. His writing is clear and informative, making it a good read for people well versed in the nutritional situation of the U.S., as well as a great manual for those who want to know why they should care that their food is organic (and why organic sometimes isn't everything).

My favorite part of the book explained that we should only eat foods that our great grandmothers would have recognized as being food. I guess that rules out the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers that I just saw in a commercial on the television. Why on earth do we buy precooked pasta in a plastic container, to then steam it in the microwave? Not only is that an incredible waste of plastic, but it is also ridiculous that now people have the option of not even having to boil water. By the way, in his book, Pollan partially attributes weight gain to the ease of preparation. The quicker it is to cook something in the microwave, the easier it is to eat more of it. We all have to take his advice, and get back into the kitchen, cook our own meals, and get in touch with our food again. Not food products containing high fructose corn syrup or an overdose of sugar or sodium, but real food from the local farmers market.

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