by Genesis Valdes
Going to the grocery store can be quite a challenge. You have so many products to choose from and they all have these claims of less fat, no GMOs, organic, etc. The real question is what should I eat? For food journalist, author, and activist, Michael Pollan, the answer is quite clear: eat real food. Yes, of course, that is exactly what we do, or at least that’s what we think. This past Thursday night at the Paramount Theatre, Michael Pollan explained the difference between real food and “edible food-like substances”, better known as processed foods. He said, “If it has more than five ingredients, it is not natural.” He also explained that if it comes with health claims, it is better not to buy it because the company selling it has the money to advertise, process, and mass produce, which means it is more likely that they’re selling “edible food-like substances” and not real food. Instead, it is the quiet packaging, where the producers have less money to advertise, where you will really find more natural products. We do live in a fast pace world, but he said investing more time in the food we consume can help improve the taste and the quality. He also emphasized how important it is to cook at home. When we are able to cook our meals at home, we can start to better understand the diversity of flavors and quality of ingredients. This is not something only moms or chefs should think about, but everyone, including our young ones.
Although Michael majored English and only took a few science classes in college, he is teaching people new ways to eat healthier food. That fact impressed me so much, because we think of food as just being an everyday thing that we don’t have to worry about, or as something that only nutritionists should take the time to scrutinize. But the truth is that food is part of our culture. It is a way to socialize and find pleasure. It can be easy to forget sometimes that it is not only about the nutrients. He highlighted the fact that there is no one diet that is going to lead to a healthy life. Instead, we just have to go back to eating real food. Michael Pollan is a great story-teller and an amazing advocate of sustainable foods. He has the experience of gardening and raising his own chickens. His effort to inform and educate people about the food industry had a huge impact on me last night and I am anxious to learn more as I start reading In Defense of Food. I encourage everyone to go out and learn where their food comes from and if possible, start your own garden to support better and healthier food.
Genesis is a junior majoring in nutrition.