Eat foods that can rot.

June 5, 2009

Author and journalist Michael Pollan (The Omnivores Dilemma, In Defense of Food) is an activist in the movement demanding a change in our food system.  Books like Fast Food Nation (Eric Schlosser) and The Omnivores Dilemma do the job of revealing to Americans the dire state of agriculture, the American diet, and our relationship with food.  These are important books that conclude: the way our food is produced is unsustainable, the majority of the food we eat is processed and not regionally grown, and that our current health crisis most certainly has something to do with those truths.  When Michael Pollan spoke at Tufts in March of 2009 he talked about food and health.  He urged us to take a holistic approach to nutrition, something industry has long forgotten.

It is the job of marketers, packagers, and food companies to come up with new ways to sell their products.  Nutrition fads have been the most successful. From 0 calorie drinks to no carb diets to a mad search for Omega 3s it makes you wonder how people didn’t drop dead from malnutrition before processed foods. Packaging and marketing are how the food industry has convinced Americans that processed foods are better than whole foods and that supporting multibillion dollar companies is more economic and nutritious that supporting regional farmers. In the process people have forgotten where food comes from and what food really is.

Food doesn’t come from Kraft or General Mills, it comes from seeds and labor.  Industrial agriculture takes that harvest (almost invariably corn or soy), breaks it up into constituent parts and reformulates it into something, “food”, which is marketable.  The result of this is not just poor health, but a people who have no respect or appreciation for those who grow food, and a large portion of our farmland being controlled not by agriculturists, but by CEOs and subsidies. (The environmental affects of these policies are for another blog post.) Michael Pollan’s holistic approach is this: eat whole foods that are nutritious in their very essence, foods that don’t have to enter any plant, don’t have to be sealed in plastic and boxed.  Eat foods that can rot.


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