Food, glorious food


I just finished reading Michael Pollan’s slim new book, Food Rules. In this small volume of 140 pages made up of 64 rules and a lot of white space, Pollan dispenses some mostly common sense advice about how and what to eat.  Rather, most of it seems like it should be common sense, but let’s face it, this country has a severely screwed up relationship to what we eat. Many of the things he suggests I have been doing for years. I stay away from soft drinks and avoid products with high fructose corn syrup whenever I can. But some of the most interesting and valuable things he is advocating for have to do with how we consume our food, and the culture around it. I have long complained about the fact that Americans judge value based on quantity instead of quality. Nothing disturbs me more than to hear someone talk about how great a restaurant was based on how much food was piled up on the plate. I mean, most people would rather have a heaping pile of crap than a couple of bites of something really tasty. Pollan points out that we should be eating more slowly, savoring our meals and that whenever possible we should eat with other people. We should (in a kind of Buddhist way, actually) pay attention to our process of eating and chewing, instead of plopping down in front of a TV. In short, we need to be more connected to our food and by extension our bodies. He also has a lot to say about food processing and what a terrible toll it has taken on our health. Some good advice has to do with not eating anything that has ingredients which you can’t imagine growing in nature. And of course a reduction in meat has all kinds of benefits that he points out. But what I like about him is that he isn’t an absolutist, allowing for the reality of our omnivore selves while advocating for a little moderation and perspective. Simple but highly recommended book.