EAT FOOD, NOT TOO MUCH, MOSTLY PLANTS…
…the famous 7 words from Michael Pollan. No matter how many times I hear these words, they still resonate with me because it make so much sense.
Michael Pollan is a writer – dissecting food and culture and how they intercept in our current society. To me, his work is an integral contribution to the ‘rethinking’ that the world is slowly doing around food, health and our approach to both.
I love Michael Pollan’s attitude – he is an omnivore, but he isn’t ‘strictly’ anything. He’s not extreme in the way he views food (e.g vegan or only paleo or 100% sugar-free) because I feel that he graps all sides to each story and argument, yet paints an honest and true account of what’s happening globally with food.
If you haven’t already you should definitely pick up a copy of his In Defense of Food, Food Rules or an Omnivore’s Dilemma. All are fantastic books and will have a profound impact on the way you view ‘food’ and of course our food culture.
As the Resident Health Coach for Urban Remedy (shout out the Laura and Kate – the power team behind UR), I was lucky enough to be invited along to hear Pollan speak last week at Sydney Opera House’s Ideas at the House events. There were a few golden nuggets that I’ve taken away from that experience…
Here are a few of my musings around said nuggets.
1) Intuition:Michael’s point that ‘No other animal struggles to decide what to eat. Only humans’ really struck a chord. I’m sure many people have written about this along the way, but for me what I hear is that we’ve lost our intuition. We do know how to eat and what to eat, we just stopped listening to that inside voice, our true understanding that connects us to each other, the earth, the animals and the seasons.
2) Cloned cultures:
When industrialisation happened so many brilliant things came about for the human race, and many that I am incredibly grateful for – I wouldn’t be writing to you on this computer if it wasn’t for man’s amazing ability to push boundaries and create. But with industrialisation came mass-production. We have always traded food – according to Pollan – for almost 1000 years amongst different cultures and societys. But today we produce and ship food en-masse around the globe. And with that we have created, for the most part, these cloned socities – no longer showcasing their uniqueness through food.
Pollan mentioned that most supermarkets around the world, although they have different products, look and function in the same way. It’s true, isn’t. You might not find a particular brand that we have in, say, Italy, but you’ll probably find the same product just dressed up differently. With the dissemination of mass-produced, processed products we, as a human race, started to rely on what others told us to eat.
3) Science doesn’t always have the answers:Michael commented that today, nutritional science doesn’t have all the answers – it’s a minefield out there and I see it everyday when I sit with a client who is again confused about something new they read about diet/food/nutrition. But what Pollan did touch on is that we need to look back to other sources of information and that is our cultural wisdom. What your grandparents and great grandparents were eating before mass-production came about. We need to collect and store this information before it’s totally lost and we no longer have a connection to our own innate understanding.
4) Cooking culture:
Pollan highlighted a need to return to a cooking culture but one that is shared between men and women – that made me smile from ear to ear. I whole heartedly agree that cooking – connecting in with food, where it comes from, how it functions and what to do with it – is integral to our understanding of health (and hopefully this will help to reduce our junk-food culture, type 2 diabetes and obesity!), nutrition and our natural wisdom. Knowing what to eat just like the animals do. Not to mention that men and women used to share the ritual of food – hunting, gathering, cooking, eating, sharing. Our culture is now (in most instances) an equal society, so food should be of equal importance and focus for men and women – and not seen simply as the burden for the mother/wife/girlfriend. When it’s shared we harness our intution and partake in a ritual and routine together. Making it valuable and special.
These are but a few of the awesome, insightful morsels that Pollan dished up. And of course, just a few of my humble musings. For another great insight – check out Urban Remedy’s awesome post last week – it sums up those 7 words with such clarity and ease.
Are you a fan of Pollan? Did you see him last week? I’d love to hear your own thoughts on Michael and his work.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live.
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