Well hello there!
Today I want to talk about a really great book called In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollen. (Haha, hearing this first line of my post in my head, I realize that I am sounding like a teacher beginning a lesson with her class, but I’m gonna run with it anyways…)
Now, to be real, this month’s challenge is not simply about cutting out sugar. The ‘yuck’ that we are trying to deconstruct with our Sugar Rehab challenge is more about the increasingly unhealthy North American diet and the numerous subsequent diseases and illness that result from our overly-processed, highly chemicalized ‘food.’ Sugar is one part of this problem, for sure, but it’s not the whole picture. We chose sugar for our February challenge because it allowed us to create a concrete test for ourselves, with the hope/intent of sugar becoming a jumping off point towards healthier eating overall.
I was first introduced to the book, In Defense of Food, approximately 2 years ago, when a member of my book club announced it for her month’s book pick (I haven’t mentioned my book club yet, but I will get into it more one day as I just love those ladies). I remember my first thought when I learned of my fellow book-clubber’s choice: ‘Non-fiction? Uggh… it’s going to be work to get through this one… Then, I’ll have to be polite and pretend I liked it too.” No pretending needed my friends! This book is actually really great! It’s an easy read and I found the content quite engaging; so much so that I actually got through this book very quickly (and, I’m unashamedly a very… slow… reader).
I won’t get into all the stats and facts laid out in In Defense of Food (cause that’s what reading it is for), but I will tell you about the general premise. Basically, the thesis is that the more technical we get about our food, the less healthy we are becoming. It references the Standard American Diet (SAD) and how in North America our food sources are becoming so very processed, that the majority of what many of us are eating isn’t in fact food at all, but rather “edible food-like products.” Michael Pollen’s recommendation is this: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Now I’m going to invite you into the inner-workings of my brain for a little bit here. Since reading this book, when I go to the grocery store, I find myself categorizing my food choices into:
- Actual, real food.
- Sort-of food.
- Food-like product.
While waiting at the check out, I also (ahem) mentally categorize the food choices of others. And yes, admittedly, I am judging. A bit. A lot. Well, it depends on the day really. What I notice is astounding! I have seen large, weekly grocery shopping collections of others where there is literally only a handful of actual food items (ie. eggs, milk, a few apples or bananas thrown in there for good measure) on the conveyer belt. Now, my own bundle of groceries at the check out is far from perfect (yes, yes, I do enjoy a pre-packaged frozen lasagna as a quick weekday meal), but after reading this book I am MUCH MORE AWARE of my food choices and I can honestly say that my ratio of real food : food-like products has changed significantly. Just ask my husband: sometimes while surveying my grocery-store purchases, he desperately claims, “but Kyla, I like chemicals!”