Michael Pollan opens In Defense of Food (2007) with a 7-word philosophy of eating: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s hard to understate how influential that line has been to tens of thousands of Americans who have taken his ideas to heart. I know I did, but in the 9 months since reading it, my own food-losophy has evolved from Pollan’s roots.
Eat natural. Mostly organic. As local as possible.
Eat natural: Artificial and overly-processed foods are something I work hard to avoid. Food coloring? Blech. Sugar-free sweetener? Ugh. High fructose corn syrup? Vomit (the very thought of HFCS really does nauseate me). If you want to eat naturally, just take a look through ingredient listings. Anything with chemical-sounding names belongs in the trash or back on the grocery store shelf.
Mostly organic: Organic more or less implies natural, though the term is now under heavy government regulation. That regulation allows some oddities (like “organic” microwaveable dinners) to slip through the cracks. More importantly, organic means that the plant or animal was raised free of pesticides and fertilizer. Even if the organic salad you buy at the grocery store was packed and shipped from California, it’s still a step in the right direction.
(Side note: There is an ethical debate about faraway organic vs. local non-organic, but I will save that for another time).
As local as possible: Eating locally means you’re eating what’s in-season. You’re also supporting a sustainable, regional food production system and keeping some of your food dollar within your community. That’s a really cool thing to do. Unfortunately, eating locally can be very difficult to do. An easy place to start is the farmer’s market, when it’s open. Nearby food cooperatives should also have a handful of locally-produced foods.
Is that all there is too it? No, not really. But like Pollan’s philosophy, it’s a starting point to help comprehend eating decisions made at every meal.