February is great so far. I’m not totally in the mood to reflect on it yet, but I will say that I truly love vegan baking and sober, meaningful, intellectual conversations with friends. And disguises.
I finally finished In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It’s rather fitting that I finished it during February. I have healthier eating habits than many Americans (especially this month), but this book makes me want to improve my diet further. This is what I’ve learned:
“A food is more than the sum of its nutrients, a diet is more than the sum of its foods, and a food culture is more than the sum of its menus.”
Eat local, organic produce. Industrial fertilizers grossly simplify the biochemistry of soil. Chemically simplified soil produces chemically simplified plants. Crops grow faster, absorbing fewer nutrients. Deficiencies in micronutrients can cause damage to DNA which may lead to cancer.
Regarding diabetes: “Apparently it is easier, or at least a lot more profitable, to change a disease of civilization into a lifestyle than it is to change the way that civilization eats.”
More leaves, fewer seeds. There is no diversity in our diet. We eat corn, wheat, and soy–seeds high in omega-6’s which need to be balanced by leafy vegetables’ omega-3’s. Livestock are cheaply fed seeds instead of grass, so industrial meat, eggs, and dairy are high in omega-6’s. We consume 1/3 the omega-3’s the Japanese do and have 4x the deaths from heart disease. Strong correlations were found between low levels of omega-3’s and high rates of depression, suicide, and homicide. Some research implicates omega-3 deficiency in learning disabilities such as ADD. [When buying dairy/eggs, look for the word “pastured.” When buying meat, look for “grass finished” or “100% grass fed.”]
Rules to follow:
Don’t eat anything your great great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.
Avoid food products with ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, more than 5 in number, or that include high-fructose corn syrup.
Avoid food products that make any sort of health claim.
Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
Eat like an omnivore. [The more diversity in your diet, the more nutritional bases you cover.]
Eat wild foods when you can. [2 of the most nutritious plants are weeds; wild game has less saturated fat and more omega-3’s.]
Have a glass of wine with dinner.
Pay more, eat less.
Eat meals (not snacks), eat at a table, and try not to eat alone.
Consult your gut. [Pay attention to your body so you know when you’re full.]
Eat slowly. [Eat less and take longer doing it; savor your food.]
Cook, and if possible plant a garden.
“As the scale increases, diversity declines; and as diversity declines, so does health; as health declines, the dependence on drugs and chemicals necessarily increases.” Wendell Berry
There you have it, a condensed version of [the second half of] In Defense of Food. If any of these rules need clarification, or if you have questions, I’m pretty much an expert now, so go ahead and ask. I am devoting the remainder of February, and basically the rest of my life, to these guidelines. I can’t wait to start hunting wild game.