Tag Archives: Michael Pollan

Activism Healthy Living Real Food

Michael Pollan on Oprah – Getting The Message Out About Real Food

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 isĀ  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?

Activism Healthy Living Real Food Reviews

Michael Pollan In Boise, Idaho – Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Although I don’t get asked as often as I should about who is one of my favorite authors and heroes, last evening I had the opportunity to see Michael Pollan speak at The Egyptian Theatre in downtown Boise, Idaho. Michael is a writer and activist about the subject of the food we eat and the environments from which our food originates. He has published numerous books, two of which include The Ominvoire’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, and writes for The New York Times.

His speech was informative and entertaining as I expected. The use of humor was most appreciated as we heard him talk about the “mysterious” world of nutrition and food, and how our expectations and traditions about it have set the stage for the health condition of our current society. He talked about our obsession with “being healthy” while at the same time maintaining our status of being the “most unhealthy” nation on the globe. We also listened as he discussed briefly the history of the industrialized world and processed food, which began some 150 years ago – which has had a profound influence on the state of our declining health ever since.

We learned that in the 1970′s, food labels were required to carry the words “imitation” if the food was not actually real food. My how things have changed! Any glance at the list of ingredients on most food packages will confirm this theory. He kept the audience wanting to hear more, as well as relayed useful information from his research, travels, and experiences as he described to us what he uncovered when on the quest to discover where our food comes from.

During the lecture, the announcer informed the audience that we would have the chance to ask questions after Mr. Pollan was finished speaking. I was lucky to have my question selected among the ten or eleven others read out loud and answered: What would you say to school board officials and dietary supervisors to get them to listen when communities ask what important changes can be made to the school lunch program to make positive changes in our children’s health and academic performance?

His response to this question was encouraging and well articulated — schools need to integrate the teachings and curriculum of food into the school schedule, and should usher back into the classroom the lost art of training children how to cook. As well as cooking, children should also be engaged in hands-on activities with food in environments such as a school garden where they all work together and are responsible for planting, growing, and harvesting food.

He also addressed the change we have been working for with regard to the actual food children are being served in the school cafeteria and touched on what many districts have already done – implemented farm-to-school programs and included foods from local growers, removed the junk and garbage and replaced with real, whole foods. Mr. Pollan did add that the cost would certainly be an issue – and I respectfully disagree, as we have already been shown in the Two Angry Moms film how various school districts have made successful changes without raising the cost of meals. But the fact that he gave such a thoughtful answer to an issue that truly does affects everyone in our nation, with the supporting applause from the audience, told me that this problem is indeed something that is close to many people’s hearts and concerns. He made us feel that if we work together and continue to educate about issues in our food supply, eventually the consciousness of its significance will be something we can no longer ignore. We must step up and fight for the change we need and want, plain and simple.

It is inspiring to see an individual such as Mr. Pollan, who is clearly engaged and interested in an issue worth talking and doing something about, willing to put his research and word out for the public to evaluate. We need more people like him in the world. Keep up the good work, Michael!

For more information about teaching children about food in schools, visit Food In Schools.