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Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.

I've recently been reading Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto; in it he talks about the perils of the Western Diet and how we really need to make the shift back to eating real food, not the processed stuff that lines the majority of the shelves in our supermarkets. The book details the various processes that our 'food' goes through, from the way companies focus on supposed "nutrients" in products instead of the food item as a whole, to all the hormones and pesticides used in almost everything that we ingest. He also breaks down all the labels that are used on packaging (organic, grass-fed, free range, etc) and what they really mean. The second part of the book then focuses more on the shift back to eating real food. (His motto is eat food, not too much, mostly plants.) Because even things at the supermarket that are labeled organic could still be traveling all the way from China, you are much better off visiting farmer's markets or investing in a local CSA. Even if the farmers near you aren't necessarily growing organically, it's still better to buy and support local establishments; at least at a farm you can have a conversation with the people that are growing your food!

Most of this information isn't new to me; I've been buying from farmer's markets for the last three years (Philadelphia has an abundance of them, and here in NJ there are small farms all over the place.) and Shawn and I eat really well most of the time. Although we do eat a lot of grains (rice & pasta) and we indulge in various snacks from time to time (mostly chips and ice cream), when I'm shopping for food I've always focused more on the ingredients than the nutritional value. My motto is "If I can't pronounce it, it can't possibly be good for me." I've certainly never been one to count calories. And when it comes to things like labels on meat and eggs, I do my best to buy the least processed/most ethical options I can find. Michael Pollan's book has definitely helped confirm a lot of my suspicions about what's going on behind the scenes, and it has also opened my eyes to other sources and realities. I would definitely recommend picking up a copy if you have any interest at all in what you're feeding your body.

I also came across this TedX Talk, which pretty much sums up everything I just wrote. This kid is inspiring, and well educated. I only wish more people would take such an interest in changing the way we think about food! Especially kids! They really are our future.

I understand that not everyone has such easy access to farms, or even education about such things. That's the real default of the current food system; no one realizes that what they're eating is harming them, because no one is telling them what's really going on. Understandably, the people selling the processed food aren't going to be honest about what they're doing and what it's doing to you. The best we can do is count on each other to spread the word about reality; people like Michael Pollan and Birke Baehr are just telling others what they know, and hoping that most of us will choose to listen, and hopefully change our ways. It's only by changing our individual eating habits that we can succeed in making a national change.