Michael Pollan: Does your pantry contain food in a package?

“Really seldom. If you look in my pantry, you won’t find that much processed stuff. Maybe some canned soups and tuna fish. I don’t have a lot of low-fat products. I much prefer to eat less of a full-fat product. You wont’ find skim milk. We’re lucky. I live in Berkeley with a farmers’ market four blocks away, and it’s open 50 weeks a year. I have the luxury of being able to buy very fresh, good food. I have a weakness for bread. A good white baguette — I have a weakness for that.” -Michael Pollan interviewed in the NY Times and author, Omnivore’s Dilemma

In his piece, Unhappy meals, Pollan’s #1 recommendations is:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Then he makes some surprising suggestions. Here’s one:

1. Don’t eat food that makes health claims.

“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”

He adds,

“Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket…These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims.”

2. Get out of the supermarket. Shop at the local farmer’s market.

“Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. You won’t find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmer’s market; you also won’t find food harvested long ago and far away. What you will find are fresh whole foods picked at the peak of nutritional quality. Precisely the kind of food your great-great-grandmother would have recognized as food. “

3. Pay more, eat less.

“The American food system has for a century devoted its energies and policies to increasing quantity and reducing price, not to improving quality. There’s no escaping the fact that better food — measured by taste or nutritional quality (which often correspond) — costs more, because it has been grown or raised less intensively and with more care….I don’t know about you, but the better the quality of the food I eat, the less of it I need to feel satisfied. All tomatoes are not created equal.”

See here for his other thoughts on how to get off the junk food train we’ve all gotten onto, without intending to.

3 responses to “Michael Pollan: Does your pantry contain food in a package?

  1. I live in the Albany, NY area. I noticed with interest that a local supermarket chain recently built a rail terminal and has dedicated freight trains running contantly from the west coast carrying produce. The time in transit is cut to 3 days. Before, by truck it took a week.

    It is encouraging to see developments like this -winters are long with no farmers’ markets. There has also been a huge increase in the organic selection of veggies and fruits in most markets around here.

    I think the pendulum is swinging in the right direction.

    We supplement our fruit and veggie uptake with whole food multis we found and thought so much of, we bought in and now offer them to the masses.

    Do you know anyone who is wondering what else they can do to stay in the best of shape as they get older-like we were?


  2. “Eat food. Not too much.”

    I’ve read that eating less and reducing your daily caloric intake has many health benefits, including increasing your lifespan.

    Easier said than done…

    Paul Eilers

  3. When I was growing up we ate veggies from our garden, usually raw.
    Now we don’t have a garden so we always buy Organic. My son will eat more fruits and veggies since we went Organic, they taste good.
    Waiting for April when the St Paul Farmer’s Market opens.


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