An excellent article on diet and nutrition

Unhappy Meals by MICHAEL POLLAN

It starts with the simple advice and conclusion of the piece:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words.

And more evidence of how capitalism fucks with policy:

Naïvely putting two and two together, the committee drafted a straightforward set of dietary guidelines calling on Americans to cut down on red meat and dairy products. Within weeks a firestorm, emanating from the red-meat and dairy industries, engulfed the committee, and Senator McGovern (who had a great many cattle ranchers among his South Dakota constituents) was forced to beat a retreat. The committee’s recommendations were hastily rewritten. Plain talk about food — the committee had advised Americans to actually “reduce consumption of meat” — was replaced by artful compromise: “Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated-fat intake.”

A subtle change in emphasis, you might say, but a world of difference just the same. First, the stark message to “eat less” of a particular food has been deep-sixed; don’t look for it ever again in any official U.S. dietary pronouncement. Second, notice how distinctions between entities as different as fish and beef and chicken have collapsed; those three venerable foods, each representing an entirely different taxonomic class, are now lumped together as delivery systems for a single nutrient. Notice too how the new language exonerates the foods themselves; now the culprit is an obscure, invisible, tasteless — and politically unconnected — substance that may or may not lurk in them called “saturated fat.”

Lucky for me I’m mostly vegetarian.

Besides which, it makes sense. The spoils of a meat kill were somewhat of a luxury for our ancestors, and our bodies are evolved to be sustained mostly from foraging fruits, nuts, and veges.



2 comments ↓

#1   Andrew Brown on 11.19.07 at 1:04 pm

Interesting.. I wouldn’t call myself a vegetarian, but have come to the point where I totally accept and understand that meat is not something you need to eat on a day to day basis at all, never mind the health detriments from eating meat all the time, especially when I have high cholesterol lol

#2   Joel on 11.19.07 at 11:25 pm

Yup, and to be honest, if people did just eat meat occasionally, rather than as a staple part of meals, then it’d have a huge positive ecological impact too. Of course, the meat-industry will vehemently oppose anything that supports people eating less meat…

Also, check the reply tatjna wrote to you in an earlier post here.

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