a friend and fellow blogger refers to “borrowing” content from others as “recycling” (or maybe he only uses that term when he reuses his own content? hmmmmmmm… now i’m not so sure, but i’m gonna go out on a limb and borrow generously from his terminology anyway 😉  ).

i finished a michael pollan book called “food rules”, and am in the middle of one by him called “in defense of food”. but since the amount of pages i’m marking to blog about are rapidly piling up, i thought i’d better start before i end up burying you in an avalanche of information all at once…

the first thing, from “food rules”, is his rule #30: “eat animals that have themselves eaten well.” this is a point that came up in joel salatin’s book also- in short: you eat what your food ate. or as i’ve seen in put elsewhere: garbage in, garbage out. so if your beef ate ground up chicken feces and cow brains and bits of bone and gristle and nasty things that were too icky to be included in sausage or hot dogs or other food products(and yes, i’m sorry to say that this is exactly what animals in industrial feedlots are given routinely all the time. yep.), then guess what is in your food? and the corollary to that of course is that, if your beef was raised in a pasture and nibbled grass and stood in the sunshine and drank fresh water from a pond- then guess what is in your food? i know it’s sickening, and i know that pastured-raised beef is like a gazillion dollars a pound, but, to quote michael pollan here, “Yes, shopping this way takes more money and effort, but as soon as you begin to treat that expenditure not just as shopping but also as a kind of vote- a vote for health in the largest sense- food no longer seems like the smartest place to economize.”

so, am i speaking like a spoiled wealthy suburbanite? yes i am. but here’s what i know for real. americans do eat too much meat. we overestimate how much protein we need from meat, and we could eat more beans and plants and other sources (even dairy, but PLEASE, no low-fat!!!). so if we used meat as more of a treat, and we made it more special, perhaps we would find the money. i know people who say they can’t afford good quality food, but they have cable TV and i don’t have it, but i think it costs upwards of $100 a month. so pretty much one month of cable TV would provide good quality meat for several meals for a small family. joel salatin is even more radical- he says that if a person has money to buy sodas and potato chips and rent movies and do other “extras” then they can cut those out and use that money for better quality food. the point is, i think lots of people are living way above the level of basic necessities and it is all a matter of what their priorities are. it’s not up to me to tell you that you shouldn’t have salon hair cuts or pedicures or professional gutter cleaners or a gym membership or whatever. but maybe you should just think on it a bit…

here’s another michael pollan gem: we are more obsessed with food than ever before, yet we are unhealthier than ever. he talks extensively about something he refers to as “nutritionism”. we are so concerned with each nutrient in food that we miss the big picture about food: that it is meant to be savored and enjoyed. that it is about family and culture and community.  that it is about ceremony and celebration and bringing people together. we have become so enmeshed in data about fat grams and counting carbs and the latest research about this or that (all of it proved wrong within a few years anyhow) that we miss the simple joys of eating. we become consumers of nutrients instead of connoisseurs of food. and that is so sad. because we haven’t gained a thing. except for a lot of extra weight and many chronic diseases. we have become so sick and so fat and so out of tune to what we actually need to be eating that we are hopelessly lost in this maze of pseudoscience (much of it funded by major food producers) and we can’t make sense of it. so we stumble around eating more and more of the wrong things in a quest to cancel out the “bad” nutrients by eating more of the “good” nutrients and all we are doing is just getting further and further behind in the game. pollan brings in a term, first coined by physician steven bratman, orthorexia– an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating- and we are the first society on earth ever to suffer from it.

so what’s the solution? is it all dire? au contraire! there are many people out there who have not lost traditional food wisdom, and those people- people who are indeed, still mired in tradition, are doing fine! interestingly enough, it doesn’t even matter what those traditions are. whether their diets are heavily plant-based or animal-based, seafood-based, or dairy-based- the more a society eats a traditional diet and avoids a “western” diet of highly processed foods, the better off they seem to be on every measure of health, from tooth decay to chronic disease. the more a society encourages people to eat as they are hungry and doesn’t market to them and try to direct their impulses with packaging and advertising, the better their weight. the lower their risk for disease. the happier they are around food. the less they have food “issues”.

he discusses many ways to get back to a more normal way of eating, and one of them is to pretend your great-grandmother is standing next to you in the grocery store (or better yet, he says, avoid grocery stores whenever possible…). don’t buy anything she wouldn’t recognize as food.  real yogurt is good. go-gurt fake yogurt type stuff in a tube is bad. apples are good. synthetic apple flavored sauce in mylar pouches not so much. got it? to expand on this idea, he says, : “avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar, B) unpronounceable, C) more than five in number, or that include D) high fructose corn syrup. none of these characteristics, even the last one, is necessarily harmful in and of itself, but all of them are reliable markers for foods that have been highly processed to the point where they may no longer be what they purport to be. they have crossed over from foods to food products.”

i think this is lots of food for thought, and i’d be curious to get your feedback so far.


click here if you want to support the right to grow your own healthy food!:http://planet.infowars.com/groups/julie-bass-garden-spring-2013/