Food and Eating Part 1

I'm in the middle of reading Michael Pollan's book : "In defense of food. An eater's manifesto". It is a truthfully written book that questions our modern day way of food production and consumption. Wonderfully written, this book has changed the way I think about food and how I choose to eat. I think you should read it too, it will truly open your eyes to your perspective on food.

There are a lot of problems with the way our society produces and consumes food. Never have we been more disconnected from where our food came from and why we choose to eat what we eat. We shove food down and our taste buds seem to have been accustomed to sugar and synthetic chemical flavours.We eat food that has travelled miles from our homelands that are not in season. Our vegetables and fruits are less nutritious then they were before because our soils lack the nutrients that were once able to be returned from the vegetables after they had been excreted as waste.

As I read the book, many questions began to come into my head and bother me. Why do children prefer to eat candy, lollies or anything in a plastic package then a real vegetable? Why is it that farmers use to grow a variety of grains, vegetables, orchards (full of different fruits) and raise many breeds of chicken, pigs, lamb and other life-stock whereas nowadays most farms are focused on produced mass, industrialised amounts of corn, wheat and soybeans? Why is it that we are always eliminating one food group or another and replacing one diet with the next? We have moved from eliminating fats to elminating carbs to elimanating gluten and dairy to eliminating sugar. Are we healthier, happier, slimmer and more satisfied than our ancestors?

In my boarding school, many asian girls from overseas come here and have to adapt to a western diet. Instead of rice, many vegetables, bone soups and meat, they have to eat white bread, desserts filled with sugar, defrosted boiled vegetables, cheap meat and a high amount of dairy. They all end up gaining weight and trying to diet, having lower self esteem about their body and spending more time thinking about going to the gym and skipping dinner than about school. Why is is that when other cultures adapt a western diet, they become so unhappy and unhealthy? Our bodies can adapt to many diets from different places but the western diet is sadly not one of them.

I have also come to doubt nutrition. Using phrases such as cholesterol, saturated fat, high fibre, sugar free, proven to increase risk of heart disease and gluten free, nutritionists have taught us what to eat, what not to eat and why. Instead of seeing food as a source of pleasure and an essential fuel for our bodies, we see chicken as protein, fat as bad, bread as deadly and cake as guilt. Why don't we see food as simply yummy? or nourishing? Nutrition is always changing. Over the past decades, we've been told to eat this , to eat that, to stop eating so much meat and fat and start eating more carbohydrates, to stop eating so many carbohydrates and eat more meat, to only eat margarine not butter, to not eat eggs, to not eat sugar, to stop eating gluten and dairy, to start eating eggs and butter again, to...... Wait!
I feel nutritionists and the government are treating us like a giant human experiment. If one thing doesn't work they say :"Oh, well, let's forget about this and move on to the next idea!" The food industry still continues to control what we eat by using nutrition as an excuse to make us to buy more of certain products. By labelling sugary cereals as high fibre and fortifying them with vitamins and minerals, these breakfast products now seem healthier and more compelling to purchase. By teaching us butter is full of saturated fat that can cause heart disease and raise our cholesterol, margarine sales have sky-rocketed (it's made from "plants", it lowers your cholesterol..... its easier to spread!!) . By making us fear fat, cookies, yoghurt and cream cheese products are all labelled as low fat to please the health conscious shopper. Isn't it strange how all these packaged products sitting on those supermarket shelves receive way more attention and publicity than our humble fruits and vegetables sitting quietly in their produce corner? Why don't we stick signs with health claims on our avocados, our apples or our spinach? Why don't we give our potatoes a little cartoon Potato man and our carrots a little cartoon Mr Carrot? Instead of trusting nature and our bodies' natural instincts, we choose to believe packaged signs, blonde, toned nutritionists and government claims. We have forgotten how we used to eat, how our grandmothers used to cook. We ignore the seasons, we forget that we should eat foods based on seasonal changes, not just what we can see off the shelves of supermarkets. How many of us actually realise why we don't find berries in winter time, or why we see lots of asparagus in spring? Maybe for once, instead of listening to authorities and important looking nutritionists, why not listen to nature and listen to ourselves? As Micheal Pollan quotes: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants".



About me

Hi I'm Cindy.