Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Food Rules

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:10 PM

Did you hear? Michelle Obama is taking her quest to end and prevent childhood obesity straight to the top of the food production chain.  But, do you think food industry giants like Kraft and Nabisco are going to bow down to her wish for more local, more organic, less processed food? No, probably not.

What they might do instead, what they usually do, is reformulate their products in an effort to include or exclude one element or another like fat, or carbs, or trans fat only to slap a big, bright call out on their new packaging exclaiming how wonderful it is that they excluded, say, red dye number 40 and injected their new tasty flakes with vitamin C.

These types of formulations are what Michael Pollan, author of several books including Food Rules and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto would call "food-like substances."

In Food Rules, a 140-page guidebook with 64 non-preachy rules and lots of pictures, Pollan simplifies the confusion over what we should and shouldn't eat. His rules include such straightforward directives as "eat only foods that have been cooked by humans" and "eat only foods that will eventually rot" alongside sage advice such as "it's not food if it's called by the same name in every language (think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles)."

If you can only remember one of Pollan's rules, remember this one: "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."

Michelle Obama would do better to pass out free copies of Food Rules to every American household than to beg food industry giants to stop doing what they do best — reformulating food to make it cheap to produce, a marketer's delight and easy to consume. Why? Because the only way the food industry is going to stop injecting our food with chemicals and dyes and, instead, figure out ways to mass market real food is if we vote for them to do so at the cash register or if we stop buying their products all together.

In fact, why bother with the giants? If you want to eat well, go to the farmers market. Check out N.C. Farm Fresh for a market near you.

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