Wednesday, 30 January 2008

In Defence of Food

I watched Newsnight on BBC last night and they had a very interesting segment with one Michael Pollan author of 'In Defence of Food'. In a nutshell, Mr. Pollan thinks people in the U.S. and England (and I would include Ireland) have lost sight of "food" and have instead focused on "nutrients" to the extent that people no longer know what is "good" for them. The Newsnight link has an excerpt from the book.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

Perhaps you're suspicious of an approach that can be summed up in just seven words - but that injunction to "eat food" is not quite as simple as it sounds.

It used to be that food was all you could eat, but today there are thousands of foodlike substances in our convenience stores and supermarkets. Brightly coloured packages boast of their low-fat, no-cholesterol, high-fibre credentials.

Ingredient panels for once-simple staples such as bread, mayonnaise or yoghurt have been swollen by lengthy lists of additives - what in a more honest age would have been called adulterants.

The result is not just confusion, but a dangerous belief that scientifically endorsed "nutrients" are inherently superior to fresh, unprocessed food.