Friday, October 2, 2009

Farm to Fork: What’s an omnivore to do?

BERKELEY, CA -- Michael Pollan holds up a box of Fruit Loops, calls it an “edible food-like substance” and asks the audience: “How about a new label that says, ‘better than donuts?’” The crowd breaks out into raucous laughter at the sheer audacity that Fruit Loops has a check mark next to healthy choice—courtesy of the industrial agriculture marketing machinery. “We’re no longer growing food,” said Pollan “we’re growing food for manufacturing.”

I am at UC Berkeley, where wildly successful food-guru author Pollan “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” is a journalism professor. The six-foot Pollan looks Berkeley-cool with his sports coat and wire-frame glasses. The near-capacity crowd of 1800 at Zellerbach Hall is a combination of gray hair seekers and hip, with-it students—all trying to get a grip on the best way to approach the unscientific pleasure of eating. Pollan claims we’ve undergone 150 years of diet change and it has taken a tremendous toll on our health.

“How do we escape the western diet without leaving civilization?” He offered a few rules to help guide the omnivore’s dilemma:
--If it has more than five ingredients, don’t eat it.
--Avoid any foods you’ve seen advertised on television.
--Don’t get your fuel at the same place your car does.
--Avoid foods that never rot—like Twinkies.

My personal favorite tip is the seven words on the "In Defense of Food" book cover. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

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