Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts, health tips, promotions to support our work and more from EWG. You can opt-out at any time. [Privacy]


Pollan says 'food' over 'nutrients'

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan lays his framework for why Americans are so confused about proper nutrition and what to eat. Pollan argues that confusion about food is job security for the food industry, nutritional science, and journalists. He cites some interesting examples of industry influence over nutrition information, taking us back to 1977 when the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition was bullied by the meat and dairy industries to change the wording of their new dietary guidelines from “eat less red meat and dairy products” to “choose meat, poultry, and fish that will reduced saturated-fat intake.”

It’s a good read so you should check it out for yourself if you have time. If you don’t, Pollan’s recommendations, in brief, are: Eat meat like a side dish rather than as a main course. Eat whole foods, not processed, and stay away from food with health claims on the packaging, as they are a good indication that what you are about to eat is not food. What is "food?" Something that your great-great grandmother would recognize.

Pollan touches on the social and environmental implications of organic agriculture as well, and I particularly like this sentence, which provides a thoughtful counterpoint to the often-heard sentiment that organic foods are elitist because they are not affordable for everyone:

And those of us who can afford to eat well should. Paying more for food well grown in good soils — whether certified organic or not — will contribute not only to your health (by reducing exposure to pesticides) but also to the health of others who might not themselves be able to afford that sort of food: the people who grow it and the people who live downstream, and downwind, of the farms where it is grown.
Key Issues: