15 June 2008

Food

I read the book In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and it seems to have really stuck with me. People around me are being driven nuts by me reading ingredient labels and commenting on what the difference is between food and food product. This book explained it beautifully, food is fuel your body needs to function well. Food product is imitation food that is created under the guise that it's better for you than the real thing. Butter is food, margerine is food product. Cheese is food, Cheez Whiz is food product. Haagen Daz is food, Skinny Cow is food product. Anything low fat or low carb or low calorie is food product because it's made of chemicals or compounds that aren't natural. Your body doesn't know what to do with all the icky stuff we eat and can't really metabolize it well so people end up fat (by eating diet food product) or in bad health.

I find as a result of this book I'm hesitant to eat things that are not food. Even the chocolate bar I just ate is real food, albeit not food that is the best for me. The only really bad ingredients in the Snickers bar are the hydrogenated palm kernal oil and artificial flavor. Hydrogenated oil is horrible for your body and I don't even know what's in artificial flavor. But even the bread I eat isn't the normal loaf I would have eaten before. There are too many unpronouncable ingredients in a loaf of commercially sold bread to make it real food. I found pita bread actually is closer to natural so I eat that.

One other thing I've changed about my label-reading is ignoring the nutritional information on the side of the package. Mostly because if the ingredients are recognizable as natural items then the food isn't horrible for me. In moderation of course :) I have been sucked into reading the nutritional info and basing my daily calories or nutrients on that, but now items like chips or chocolate bars have some protein or fibre to convince myself it's almost good for me. If I eat real food, like fruits or vegetables, then I will get my daily requirements of nutrients in anyway. And if the nutrients are naturally occuring in the food I eat instead of sprayed on like they are for cereals or chips, then I will have a better benefit from them. Each nutrient on its own doesn't have the same benefit as having them combined with others in the food. Like eat the broccoli and get the good folic acid along with other good (and even bad) nutrients. Eat just folic acid and your body doesn't handle it as well.

I find all of this facinating because we are a generation of convenience and instant gratification. Food product is being disguised as food and put into tasty and easy-to-prepare items. Then it is marketed to people that don't feel they have time to give themselves or their families a proper meal. I feel like people are being hoodwinked into very bad choices which will impact them in ways we haven't begun to imagine. But I can't change the whole world, so I'll just start with me and keep to eating actual food.



Happy Father's Day to my dad, who was a man who felt he was worthless but I knew he was priceless.

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