Sustainable Saturday - In Defense of Food

"Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants."  excerpt from In Defense of Food:  An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan.

This book gave me a better perspective of the "Western Diet" as Pollan calls it and explains how we got to where we are now in regards to food, or maybe I should say food processing.  My childhood was spent in a growing suburb of Columbus.  My Dad is from a rural village in Ohio and my Mom from a mostly rural / early suburban area.  I know that my Paternal Grandparents had a garden.  My parents too had a garden growing up for a few years . . . I'd have to ask them how old I was and for how long, but never the less I remember it.  Another thing I remember about my childhood was canned food both fruits and vegetables.  I tease my mother to this day that I don't ever want to see another can of fruit cocktail again in my life!  Recently, I had been thinking about why I remember so vividly this canned food and really a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I think about our society today and at almost any time of the year you can find strawberries, watermelon and all of the staples like carrots, potatoes and onions. 

As I eagerly read through the pages of In Defense of Food:  An Eater's Manifesto many of my questions found answers.  My childhood (in the 1980s) was filled with processed foods because that was a sign of the times.  New foods and processes were being created at a rapid pace and still are today.  The food industry has lost all sense of "real food" and has made its millions (probably more like billions) creating artificial everything.  Food promising to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, provide more fiber, provide more vitamin D, etc.

It made me realize and reaffirm why I do some of the things I do.  I've had friends tell me, how do you get so much done?  That's usually when they see my garden in the summer time.  And I guess the simple answer is because I've made it a priority.  I've made it a priority to move away from many of the things and foods my husband and I grew up with.  The "Western Diseases" that Pollan speaks about:  Heart Disease, Cancer and Diabetes resonate strongly with me.  I want to give my kids the best start in life that I possibly can in this crazy mixed up world that we now live in.

In Defense of Food reaffirmed things for me about the importance of buying local and growing your own food.  I also learned or maybe it simply heightened my awareness of all the health food claims that we are confronted with every time we set foot into the grocery store.  Even the products that are labeled "All Natural" or even "Organic" may not be the best option for our bodies because they are processed and are removed from this concept of real food.

I highly recommend In Defense of Food:  An Eater's Manifesto for anyone who wants to learn more about the culture and history of food in the United States.  I really feel like Pollan says it so simply:  "Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants."  I would add to that:  Buy local, organic or simply grow a garden.  Spend time preparing food.  Enjoy it (slowly) with company.  I think Pollan would agree.

What's next?  I'm going to attempt to tackle The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.

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