Don’t Eat Anything That Doesn’t Rot

20 Apr

I have had a link to this article stuck in my digital notebook for a while, a kind of electronic dog-eared page on teh web prompting me to get back to it and post it here on the blog. Finally, I have had a moment to do just that.

Back in early March Amy Goodman had Michael Pollan on her show (Democracy Now) and the full interview is posted over at AlterNet. The entire interview is worth a read, but here are some highlights:

On Threats to Food:

Food’s under attack from two quarters. It’s under attack from the food industry, which is taking, you know, perfectly good whole foods and tricking them up into highly processed edible foodlike substances, and from nutritional science, which has over the years convinced us that we shouldn’t be paying attention to food, it’s really the nutrients that matter. And they’re trying to replace foods with antioxidants, you know, cholesterol, saturated fat, omega-3s, and that whole way of looking at food as a collection of nutrients, I think, is very destructive.

On Nutrition(ism):

Well, nutrition science is very compromised by industry. Organizations like the American Dietetic Association take sponsorship from companies who are eager to find — you know, be able to make health claims. Not all nutrition science. And there are very large, important studies that are, you know, published — that are supported by the government and are as good as any other medical studies in terms of their cleanness. But there is a lot of corporate nutrition science that’s done for the express purpose of developing health claims. This science reliably finds health benefits for whatever is being studied. You take a pomegranate to one of these scientists, and they will tell you that it will cure cancer and erectile dysfunction. You take, you know, any kind of food that you want. And now, it’s not surprising, because food is good for you, and that all plants have antioxidants.

On The Cost of Processed Food:

Well, processed foods — you know, fast food seems cheap. I mean, if you have the time and the inclination to cook, you can eat more cheaply. But you do — as you say, you do need the time, and you do need the skills to cook. There is no way around the fact that given the way our food policies are set up, such that whole foods are expensive and getting more expensive and processed foods tend to be cheaper — I mean, if you go into the supermarket, the cheapest calories are added fat and added sugar from processed food, and the more expensive calories are over in the produce section. And we have to change policy in order to adjust that.

On Cultural Wisdom:

There’s an enormous amount of wisdom contained in a cuisine. And, you know, we privilege scientific information and authority in this country, but, of course, there’s cultural authority and information, too. And whoever figured out that olive oil and tomatoes was a really great combination was actually, we’re now learning, onto something scientifically. If you want to use that nutrient vocabulary, the lycopene in the tomato, which we think is the good thing, is basically made available to your body through the olive oil. So there was a wisdom in those combinations. And you see it throughout.

Read the rest of this interview here:


One Response to “Don’t Eat Anything That Doesn’t Rot”

  1. Karen Davis April 26, 2008 at 8:56 am #

    I love the title “Don’t eat anything that doesn’t rot”. Great advice! One problem with eating locally, though, is if you’re in an area without access to produce in the winter. I guess we need to be building more greenhouses to grow healthy stuff year round. I’m trying to ensure that I have access to tomatoes, in particular, as my husband has some heart issues and I’ve been reading a lot about how lycopene can help. (See this article I just read — the value of lycopene is remarkable. I’m trying to find a way to grow tomatoes myself through the winter.

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