It’s possibly strange that, even though I haven’t (yet) read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, or Food Rules, I have taken a deep interest in what I know of the overarching concepts within them. I have heard Michael Pollan on the radio and have also recently read a couple of posts on the New York Times website by Mark Bittman. There is something in their messages that really strikes a chord with me, and that’s summed up in what Bittman would like to be our food acronym, ERF: Eat Real Food. This is also nicely put by Pollan when he suggests that we eat only what our great-grandparents would recognize as food. These foods can be found along the outer edges of a typical grocery store: fruits, vegetables, meats. Real food or whole foods. Another guide for eating is a simple three sentence suggestion by Pollan that is the other acronym in the title of this post: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
The key there, and implicit in the first part of that suggestion, is that a lot of what we find on the shelves of our grocery store is not really food. I mean, yeah, we eat it, but it’s not real food. Another thing that I am thinking about whenever I am deciding what to eat is to avoid “processed” food. But what that means, I don’t fully have a handle on yet. One thing I try to go by is something I can remember comedians joking about even 20 years ago. Don’t eat something that has ingredients that you can’t pronounce. But are noodles “processed?” Or is butter “processed?” I guess they are somewhat processed since you don’t harvest noodles from the field and butter doesn’t come out of a cow’s udder but there is a limit. How much processing is too much processing? That’s where I’m trying to get to eventually.
We will be glad that the food scientists of the 50’s and 60’s developed the preservatives we use these days and we will be glad to have non-perishables and canned food when there are emergencies like a nuclear attack or a blizzard that closes the grocery stores for a week, but until then, I’m going to try to stick to real food.