Pollan discussing the truth behind America's food
Michael Pollan was featured on Oprah today, discussing the importance of eating whole foods. With the recent release of Food Inc., a documentary uncovering some disturbing truths about the way our food is grown, processed, and sold, new attention is being paid to how America needs to rethink our food consumption.
Pollan was featured as an expert advisor in the film after over 20 years of research into the food industry. He points out today on Oprah that the 'western diet' originated only about 100 years ago, consisting mostly of processed foods and meats, only minutely including the most important parts of a diet; fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. And before the beginning of the western diet, populations did not experience diseases like heart disease, type II diabetes, and obesity.
Pollan admits that we've made it rational through cost to eat poorly. He agrees that processed foods are cheaper and paying attention to what we consume takes a little more money and time; two things Americans grip tightly. However, cutting costs comes with a huge price. In 1960 18% of our national income was spent on food and 5% on health care. Currently, we've lowered the amount spent on food to 9%, but 17% is now spent on health care. To this he asks, who would you rather pay your money to?
The fact is, if you take the time to plan meals and buy according to your grocer's sales, you can spend relatively the same amount as your 'easier' more processed and impulsive list. I know for a fact because over the past year I have become a label whore; not with my jeans but with my food labels. Believe me, it was hard at first taking my time in the store toting three kids with me, but the more research I did at home and the more planning I allowed myself, the easier it was.
Pollan advises one way to help your budget is to shop at local farmers markets for the produce in season. We have two big ones here in Kansas City, the Overland Park farmers market and City Market. There are also great websites such as www.eatwild.com and www.eatwellguide.org where you can type in your zip code to find local famers markets and grass-fed meats and dairy. And remember, if you can't find fresh produce, frozen is not only the next best thing, but sometimes the even better thing because most frozen produce is picked and frozen at the peak of freshness, ensuring the nutrients are in top form.
Pollan cautions us to pay attention to what we eat, and eat only real food. In his new book, Food Rules, he give step by step rules to follow to increase your food knowledge and better your consumption habits. Food is something that can grow, fly, swim, or run, and if you eat out of these categories you are only making everything harder on your body from digesting it to finding the nutrients in the food, and to staying healthy with the fuel you provide for it. His advice is easy to follow and true to the bone, and everyone should read more about him and his studies at www.michaelpollan.com.