I love listening to Radio National. During the summer series this morning, they featured an American author called Michael Pollen. He was talking about his new book “In defence of food: An eater’s manifesto”.
Given I am watching everything that goes into my mouth at the moment, I was interested to hear his thoughts on our [western cultures] dietary habits.
Basically he says that real food – the kind your great-grandmother would recognise as good – is being undermined by science on the one side and the food industry on the other. He believes that these two groups want us to focus on nutrients, good and bad, rather than actual plants, animals and fungi. He calls this the rise of nutritionism.
Nutritionism arose to deal with a genuine problem – the fact that the modern diet is responsible for an epidemic of chronic diseases, from obesity to heart disease and many cancers.
What he has realised though, is that a real solution to this problem involves putting the focus back on organic foods and food chains. You cannot isolate various nutrients (in particular the meteoric rise of Omega 3) from the rest of the food source. They require the context of all other nutrients in the food to do their work.
His best piece of advice is “If your great grandmother wouldn’t know what food it is, you probably shouldn’t be eating it”.
If, like me, you find this subject fascinating, I would urge you to order his book. You can buy it here on Amazon.
You can also get more information and hear him talk at his web site michaelpollan.com.