Mmmm, food. I love food! Talking about it, shopping for it, eating it (I am not such a fan of cooking it, but I make an effort).
I finally got around to reading Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, having heard snippets from it for a few years. I’ve even quoted from it in this blog, without having actually read the thing.
Well I can tell you folks, it is worth reading the book. Even if you think you know what it’s all about and what Michael Pollan’s take is (as I assumed I did). This is the sort of book I would recommend to anyone; not just foodies, fitness freaks, serial dieters or fitness professionals.
Pollan has really put his finger on the issue behind our relationship with food, our growing obesity and unhealthiness, our food neuroses and our search for solutions in the shape of fad diets or bad science.
What I really like about this book, though, is that it is easy to read. Pollan isn’t trying to make a scientific point or unveil some new discovery, so he doesn’t have to trot out study citations (you can find a study to support almost anything these days) in order to sound convincing. He’s just trying to put us back in touch with what we already know instinctively as human beings but have buried under the weight of modern conveniences.
And, refreshingly, he doesn’t scaremonger. In fact, he’s doing the opposite – reminding us that good food is good food, as it always was. Butter = lovely! Eggs = great! Red wine = good for you!
The modern hunter-gatherer
We don’t have to kill our own meat any more, or dig up our own roots (although you can if you want to), but we should be spending a lot more time hunting for the right foods and gathering from different sources – rather than going to one big supermarket and throwing it all in the trolley.
How is the food made? Where did it come from? Who owns the farm, where is the farm? Do they farm organically? How far did the food travel? What has been added to it? What were the animals fed on?
Just as a hunter might teach her son how to track animals, we must teach our children how to read labels and understand where the most healthful food can be found – whether that is at a local farmers’ market, your own garden or the organic section at the supermarket.
A better understanding of where our food comes from and under what circumstances it was made will lead us to better health, a more sustainable lifestyle and a greater sense of community from understanding the food chain.
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