I have a cousin who used to have an herbal supplements business. He gave me some of the best advice in my life: the best medicine is the food you eat. It’s obvious to me that much of what is wrong with the US has to do with food, from the industrial production of it which destroys the nutrients of the soil and poisons agriculture, to the artery clogging ingredients of processed foods, to the low quality of most restaurant foods, to the transportation of foods causing global warming, to the imbalance of food stuffs that people consume, to the ill-health and lower life span this causes, to the nauseating taste of most prepared foods, and so on.
Michael Pollen, the one-man food revolutionary who authored The Omnivore’s Dilemma and now a new book, In Defense of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating, distills some his latest views in this fantastic interview. If you want to know what is going into your body and avoid future trips to the hospital, I highly recommend reading his work.
I spent a lot of time looking at the science of nutrition, and learned pretty quickly there’s less there than meets the eye, and that the scientists really haven’t figured out that much about food. Letting them tell us how to eat is probably not a very good idea, and indeed the culture — which is to say tradition and our ancestors — has more to teach us about how to eat well than science does. That was kind of surprising to me.
It really comes down to seven words: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” What is food? How do you know whether you’re getting food or a food-like product? The interesting thing that I learned was that if you’re really concerned about your health, the best decisions for your health turn out to be the best decisions for the farmer and the best decisions for the environment — and that there is no contradiction there.
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