Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Defense of Food {2}

Some of you are just as interested in this clean eating stuff as I am, and others of you probably couldn’t care less.  Those that fall in the latter category will probably just want to skip this post (or you probably didn’t even click the title, which means you’re not reading this anyway which means I’m typing for nothing…. ;).

Anyway, I promised a second post on this wonderful book, and I’m finally delivering.  Since then I have also read Food Rules (another by Michael Pollan), Real Food: What to Eat and Why (by Nina Planck),and What to Eat (by Marion Nestle).  I would love to tell you all what I learned from those, but I may or may not have the time to type posts on all of them.  Regardless, I think it is good for my mommy-brain to read these books and take notes on them.  Keeps on my little neurons hopping up there! 

However, I’m finding it hard to take my notes about all of this in-depth stuff and re-write it into a blog post that won’t overwhelm everyone.  So I’m going to write what I learned (MAJORLY CONDENSED) and then I’ll just list my favorite quotes from the book at the end.  Okay?


When it all comes down to it, the reason we’ve gotten to this point, food-wise, all comes down to politics.  (Shocker, right?)  Back in the ‘70’s, the government made the mistake of trying to tell people what *foods* to eat less of in order to stay healthy.  This threw food lobbyists into a tizzy fit, which made politicians sweat, which lead to George McGovern (a senator who, as the chair for the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, helped to issue Dietary Goals for the United States) to make the statement/decision that the government should “Speak no more of food, only nutrients.” (24)

Way back in 1938, when more food was starting to become processed, a law was passed so that companies selling fake food were required to label their food as “imitation” if the food wasn’t a real item. That law, too, was thrown out in 1973 after pressure from the food industry. 

This has led to the ridiculousness that currently occurs when you see foods like potato chips or chocolate toddler formula or white bread touting health claims because they are stripped of everything natural, caked with chemicals, and then topped with some healthy additives.

And, not surprisingly, the Western diet has come with a whole host of Western diseases that other cultures (who eat traditional, real foods) simply don’t have.  Our diet causes obesity, heart disease, bad teeth, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes – diseases still not found in many traditional or tribal cultures around the world. 

Moving away from traditional fats, especially, and moving toward fats like soybean and vegetable oils (they’re in everything – seriously!) has led to a deficiency in our bodies of omega-3s and in increase in omega-6s.  Omega-6s lead to inflammation (read: heart disease, etc.), which, while conveniently keeping pharmaceuticals in business, is essentially killing us. 

The goal is to go back to traditionally-recognized foods, start enjoying food more (rather than scarfing it down in the car), and start reclaiming our health. 

It was a great book that I totally recommend – but if you don’t have time to read it, check out Food Rules.  Much shorter (you can read it in an hour), less history, more practical tips. 


Lastly, some selected quotes (I just copied and pasted these from Word so some of my notes are mixed in):

Dr. Weston Price found that “the human animal is adapted to, and apparently can thrive on, an extraordinary range of different diets, but the Western diet, however you define it, does not seem to be one of them.” 100

We have a serious deficiency in the nutrient Omega-3; it is surpassed by Omega-6, which is found in things like seed oils. Moving from things like butter to margarine “markedly increased omega-3s at the cost of omega-3s. Thus without even realizing what we were doing, we dramatically altered the ratio of these two essential fats in our diet and our bodies, with the result that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the typical American today stands at more than 10 to 1.” 127

“Joseph Hibbeln, the researcher at the National Institutes of Health who conducted population studies correlating omega-3 consumption with everything from stroke to suicide, says that the billions we spend on anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen is money spent to undo the effects of too much omega-6 in the diet.” (Omega-6s lead to inflammation; whole leaves/seeds argument.) 131

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” 148

“Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.” 149

“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.” 150

“Avoid food products that make health claims.” 154

“Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.” 157

“Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.” 157

“You are what you eat eats too.” 167


If you’re not asleep on your computer desk, congratulations!  This officially earns the title of my longest post EVER. Hope it helps at least one of you. ;)


  1. I read it and enjoyed it! I love the show Biggest Loser and Losing it with Jillian because they share so many tips about eating. I am a junk food junkie and really want to live/eat better and pass that on to my kids. I want them to reach for fruit as a snack and not potato chips and pray they find that fulfilling! That's my issue having grown up on processed foods... They are so filling and satisfying that when I eat an apple for example, I want more! I need to fuel my body rather than just fill the void... Thx for this post and I'll be a faithful reader of all your clean eating posts!!!

  2. I"m VERY interested in this way of life and love hearing more about it. I really appreciate all the time and research you've put into it because it really overwhelms me! I hope to keep learning more and more from you! Thanks!

  3. I went back and read your first post and you're so right! I think a lot of the problem is people being uneducated about what they should eat. And that chocolate formula! Ugh!

    Have you watched Food, inc? Parts of it are extremely exaggerated but there is some useful information. Great post, you actually made me want to read the book! :)

  4. I am right there with you on this stuff. The more I read and open my eyes to the state of our food in this country, the more I am inclined to share it with everyone I know as well as change the way I eat and feed my family. This book sounds a lot like The Omnivore's Dilemna, also by Pollan as well as that movie, Food Inc. I have been wanting to read Food Rules, and I want to even more so now. Thanks for sharing!

  5. LoVe It!!! If you have not watched the move FOOD, INC. you have to watch is a real eye opener to the food industry!

  6. I am so with you! We have a way to go but I'm really proud of the way my kids eat...wish I ate half as well as they do...I have a lot of bad habits to break! It's sad to think of how badly we've damaged our bodies with our food habits :( Thanks for writing out this post!

  7. Great post. I try to read the ingredients and choose foods with only a few ingredients. One thing I have started doing is making a lot from scratch. I rather make pancakes from 6 ingredients that I already have in my kitchen, then 20+ ingredients half of which I don't even know what they are.

  8. Wow! Our lives are freakishly alike!!! You are definitely right. Thanks for stopping by and following! Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  9. Love it!! I just read Food Rules today (in an hour, ha!) I bet you will have a bunch of options for organic foods in CT. I'm so jealous! I love WV, but you can imagine how hard it is to find anything healthy here.

  10. thank you for sharing more! i love the idea of enjoying food more - especially if it means it's good for you! : ) bring on traditional!

  11. De-lurking to say that you've inspired me to start a similar journey! Thanks so much for the condensed wisdom and book recommendations.

  12. Ethan and I are with you sista! We switched our diet (due to health reasons) last September. Looking at the Western diet, it's no wonder America is one of the highest medicated countries. We've got a problem. JEALOUS you are so close to a Trader Joe's and Chipotle!! Our closest TJs and Chipotle are 6+ hours away in Atlanta.


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