Sunday, February 1, 2009

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

In flight to India, I finished Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food". Back in November, I mentioned starting to read it, but one thing lead to another, and I got distracted by work and other things, and the book laid around the house unread until my merged Friday-Saturday-Sunday 38 hour marathon day. Anyways, Pollan's mantra is the title of this post, "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." ...and it is ingenious in it's simplicity and straightforwardness.

When I first encountered it, it sounded outright silly. "Eat food." What the heck else is a person supposed to eat? But Pollan defines food as follows:
- don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
- avoid food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or more than five in number, or that include high-fructose corn syrup
- avoid food products that make health claims
- shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
- get out of the supermarket whenever possible (as my buddy Ron does in London, going to the green grocer, the fish monger, the butcher and cheese shop, establishing a relationship with those in his food chain)
On my United Airlines flight to DC, I asked for a can of cranberry juice. I was disgusted to find the high-fructose corn syrup as the main ingredient. Ew.

The "Not too much" part is attributable to fiber and micro-nutrients, most of which modern processed food stuffs, or food like products, have taken out, for instant gratification, ease of shipment, reduction of spoilage. The "Mostly plants" part relates to all the healthy Omega-3s that are only found in chlorophyll producing plants, and animals that eat healthy plants.

So I am going to try my best, while here in India, to adopt a nearly vegetarian, or "select-tarian" diet of mostly cooked plants (to avoid the nasty digestional diseases that eating uncooked ones here would give my weak Western intestines).

And yes, eating a healthy, organic (or nearly organic), shortened-food-chain, natural diet is more expensive, and harder to do, but it will help me live longer (12 to 15 years longer), and as more and more consumers who can afford it adopt it, such foods will become less expensive for others.

I'm just disappointed with myself that it took me so many decades to realize all the yummy, processed, food-like-things I was putting into my body were screwing up my metabolism and making me less than healthy (elevating my triglycerides, hemoglobin A, insulin resistance, LDL, and screwing up my hunger hormones). Diet soda I've got down from 6 a day to 2 or 3 a month. Now, for the high-fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other ADM, BASF, Monsanto, Dow, and other corporate conglomerate produced BS that doesn't need to be there. And if it is there, it doesn't need to be in me. When I get back, I need to find the Avondale AZ Farmer's market!


  1. You trying to put Clark Griswold out of a job?

  2. Indeed, in a micro-universe, I am. He can add all the food colorings, addivitves, and preservatives he desires, promoting them to the "food industry" - and the masses can continue to devour them. I just won't be included in that throng, as I try and avoid inheriting diabetes from both my parents.

    Tonight in Bangalore, I gently prostalitized natural foods to my co-workers, who agreed whole heartedly with me, though perhaps they also chalked it up to me being somewhat of a curmudgeon. Hey you kids, get off my Farmer's Market!

  3. but when are you going to try the aboriginal diet and reset your metabolism?

  4. If I was better at hunting, fishing, and gathering, and didn't live in the FSM-forsaken desert, had an efficient solar cell powered generator / battery storage that could reliably get me to 110V 60Hz for a laptop, with robust satellite phone and high speed internet uplink, I'd try the aboriginal diet enthusiastically. The trappings of modern connectivity, and my own inept lack-o-survival skills, prevents such an attempt. Sure, I could make it through a weekend, better than Michel Scott on "The Office" could in the woods, but 7 weeks, I'd be VERY VERY hungry, and tired, and itchy.


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