If you haven’t already began noticing just how much discussion is taking place in the world about how our food is produced, what we are eating, and how it might be killing us – now is the time to start listening.
Michael Pollan appeared on the Oprah Show this week. He is the best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Botany of Desire. His latest book, Food Rules is a simple, must-have guide for anyone who is keen on improving the state of their health. It is a great beginner’s guide for how to get started in removing processed foods from your life and start eating real food.
Unfortunately I missed the show on Oprah this week, but I have watched it in its entirety from recorded material and feel it is really important to post something about this broadcast. Its message is one of the most important we can hear about the way we view food, and the implications of where our food comes from are far-reaching and have a profound effect on so many aspects of our lives.
Here is an excerpt from Michael’s conversation with Oprah on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010:
Here are just a few of the important points Pollan and Oprah discussed in his interview:
- In the 60s, people spent 17 percent of their income on food, while about 9 percent was spent on health care; today we spend roughly 17 percent on health care and 9 percent of our income on food
- Processed foods like low-fat flavored yogurt contain more calories than real, whole milk yogurt
- Fat doesn’t make us fat! Native Inuit people of the northern regions eat 75 percent fat in their diet – and have virtually no incidence of diabetes or heart disease. Real fats digest and assimilate properly and bring us to a state of health, while fake fats make us sick.
- “Edible food-like substances” have taken a front seat at the dinner table and in our budgets while real food has become more and more scarce – and heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other degenerative disease are skyrocketing
- The food industry has successfully convinced consumers that they can provide us with the nutrition we need conveniently, but at the price of our health and well-being and damage to the environment
- The government subsidizes fake foods, making it not only cheaper for farmers and consumers to produce and eat fake foods, but also creating the illusion of those products being more appealing and tasting better (through engineering of those foods)
- You really can make a difference when you spend money on food – you are voting with your hard-earned dollars for what foods you want to see available to consumers to buy, and at more affordable prices
- Counting calories and fats are not going to make us healthy -we’ve been doing that with processed, fake foods for decades and where has it gotten us? Eat real food and it doesn’t matter – your body will get the nutrients it needs to be healthy
- The interview includes an excerpt from the film Food, Inc. This documentary is an eye-opening look at our food system, including footage of operations that produce chickens and processing plants that package meat, interviews with activists, consumers, and farmers, and statistics and data about the the health implications and environmental impact of the food industry’s stranglehold on our food. If you haven’t yet seen this important film, I highly recommend you do so soon.
What can you do to make a difference AND improve your health? Many people believe they cannot afford to eat healthy food. But there are many ways to accomplish this task. Eating real food can be easier than you think if you look at it in terms of spending more now on real food and much less on health care costs later. Making changes in your eating habits can start with just a few easy steps:
- Start buying local, sustainable, humanely raised, and organic a little at a time – the most important foods to eat organic and sustainable are foods with fat in them because they are stored in your cells and make a huge impact on your health – meats, dairy products, and oils. If you are on a budget, put those things at the top of your priority, and spend less on your other foods like produce
- Stop buying processed foods, they are the culprit of many of our health care issues, and buy foods that come from nature
- If something you are buying has more than 5 ingredients on the label, or you cannot pronounce the ingredients, avoid it. Better yet, buy foods with no ingredient list!
- If you haven’t already, develop an interest in learning to cook and make foods from home. There are a wealth of resources available to those who feel overwhelmed and are unsure about where to start. Check out our list of resources and recipes geared toward helping you make healthier choices. Visit our home page to find our Amazon book list and different topics about food. Learn about different types of foods, where they come from, and what they really mean.
- Do you know the difference between grass-fed meat and meat from conventional, factory-farm sources? Read this helpful article to learn more about the health benefits of humanely-raised meats from animals on pasture.
- Learn about the importance of consuming milk and dairy products from grass-fed cows, which is completely different from conventional milk you buy in the store and from farms who feed their cattle grain, soy, and corn.
- Once you know more about where our food comes from, consider getting to know your local farmers and food growers. Buying foods from your farmer’s market and merchants in your area gives you more knowledge about how the food you buy is produced – as well as peace of mind and better health.
- Keep it coming! Go to the Oprah Winfrey web site and leave a comment about this show and very important issue. You can also suggest that other food activists and spokespersons be featured on the show to promote awareness about changing the way our food system works and how we view food. It would be great to see people like Chef Ann Cooper (Renegade Lunch Lady), Dr. Susan Rubin, Nina Planck, or Toni Geraci on the show. These people are all pioneers, educators, and activists who are helping to shape the face of our food system in a positive way.
How are you making a difference in the health of yourself and your family? What steps are you taking or have you taken to change your eating habits, reduce waste, and make your health better?