Friday, January 21, 2011

The rules of eating

At Re-Thinking Soup this past Tuesday at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum Michael Pollan's 12 rules for eating the healthiest were discussed.

Over the course of the industrial revolution, when most trade was transformed into mass productions, so was the food we eat. Communities all across the United States lost local infrastructure like produce farmers and slaughter houses and butchers. Industrial farming has degraded our food system and created a predominance in bad agriculture. Not to be completely objective, however, to farm industrially an efficient product must be made. To create this efficiency farmers use a variety of different toxic chemicals to kill off pest (insects and plants included), create a product that will grow bigger and better and to allow the soil to nurture alike products over and over again.

Although they successfully produce vast amount of food to feed Americans, industrial farming adversely affects public health and pollutes the community. Industrial farming also uses and wastes a much higher amount of water than conventional, agricultural farming.

As I stated before, farmers are not intentionally creating an unhealthy product to harm consumers, they are doing it to maximize profits. By not concentrating on the health of the product and the externalities to the environment, industrial food is feeding the world in the wrong way.

So what can you do? Rules acknowledged from Michael Pollen are:

1. Cook! Eat what you, yourself cook- from scratch. Start with a family recipe.
2. Grow, and eat, from a garden.
3. Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
4. Don't eat food products containing ingredients that are: unfamiliar, unpronounceable and more than five in number.
5. Don't eat foods with ingredients that a normal person doesn't have in their pantry.
6. If you can't pronounce the ingredients on a product list, don't eat it.
7. Going one step further, don't eat any food with an ingredients list.
8. Don't eat any food that's advertised, or makes a health claim.
9. Don't eat any food that doesn't rot.
10. Pay more, eat less.
11. Do your grocery shopping at a Farmer's Market. Buy directly from a farmer you know and trust.

I think that Michael Pollan's main goal is to change the food system by getting consumers away from processed food. He speaks much more in depth in his books: Food Rule's, In Defensive of Food, Omnivore's Dilemma, etc. He also has "Michael Pollan on Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" an interesting video: http://fora.tv/2010/01/23/Michael_Pollan_on_Food_Rules_An_Eaters_Manual.

When thinking about what Pollan says, taking into account the family recipes and food that your grandmother knows, it's not all about that we are eating meat, cheese or milk. It is what is in that food that we eat. When thinking back before the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of time, people consumed butter, milk, eggs and meat. Their diets lacked food filled with hormones, chemicals and additives that are only detrimental to our health. Even people in other countries in the world eat much simpler foods containing high levels of natural fats and sugar.

Listening to this video as I write this, he speaks about Sugar Cane Farmers consuming 6,000 calories a day from sugar; however they do not have diabetes and are not over-weight because they get a balance of exercise. He stated that any whole food nature provides us can be made into something healthy.  Lastly, he states that we are the one civilization that has created a diet that makes itself sick!

How would your life change if you followed Michael Pollan's rules?

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