Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Defense of Food

Here is a brief excerpt from an excellent book I’ve been reading:

People eating a Western diet are prone to a complex of chronic diseases that seldom strike people eating more traditional diets. Scientists can argue all they want about the biological mechanisms behind this phenomenon, but whichever it is, the solution to the problem would appear to remain very much the same: Stop eating a Western diet.

In truth the chief value of any and all theories of nutrition, apart from satisfying our curiosity about how things work, is not to the eater so much as it is to the food industry and the medical community. The food industry needs theories so it can better redesign specific processed foods; a new theory means a new line of products, allowing the industry to go on tweaking the western diet instead of making any more radical changes to its business model. For industry it’s obviously preferable to have a scientific rationale for further processing foods – whether by lowering the fat or carbs or by boosting omega-3s or fortifying them with antioxidants and probiotics – than to entertain seriously the proposition that processed foods of any kind are a big part of the problem.

(In Defense of Food, an eater’s manifesto, by Michael Pollan.)

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