Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Nation: Nutrition vs. Food

The Nation has a great short article from an interview with Michael Pollan. The article's writer, Jon Weiner, asks Pollan how he can more conveniently eat healthy because he needs to "eat in a hurry so I can rush back to checking my email. What I really need is a food I can eat WHILE I'm checking my email." The answer? Breakfast bars, which as Pollan points out make big money from cheap ingredients for their manufacturers. We pay for the convenience with both our wallets and our health.

"The problem is that every step of additional processing makes the food less nutritious," [Pollan] replied. "So they add lots of nutrients back in to the processing so they can make health claims. But they only add what they know is missing. There are other things in whole grains that the scientists don't know about. You'll be missing out on that. But you'll be up to date on your email."

"That's the cozy relationship between nutritional science as it's practiced in this country, and the processed food industry. The nutritional scientists are telling us every six months what the new good and new evil nutrients are. For the most part, these are well-intentioned efforts to understand the links between food and health. Then you have the food industry, which loves every change in the nutritional weather, because they can then reformulate the food. The net effect is that it makes all the processed foods in the middle of your supermarket look far more healthy and sophisticated than the genuinely healthy food in the produce section, which of course bear no health claims and sit there as silently as a stroke victim."

Pollan's advice? Eat food, real food. Our focus on convenience is making big corporations rich while destroying our health and our environment.


Veggie Option said...

This doesn't really have much to do with your post, aside from the label "Industrial food" but I thought I'd share that the US FDA has recently ruled that foods from cloned animals are safe for consumption.

Town Hall Ohio (a weekly public affairs broadcast produced by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation) is sponsoring a debate on the topic this weekend. It should be available online at if you are interested.

valereee said...

I was so distressed about the cloned animals news! Other developed nations have generally given it a thumbs down, but its proponents are arguing that developing nations need the technology.