Truly an informative piece of writing that couldn't be more relevant in today's society. Michael Pollan really shines a much needed light on the problems in the American diet. He educates his readers about how the age of nutritionism has evolved. In a time when chronic lifestyle related diseases are at alarming rates, Pollan discusses how the Western diet has contributed to this epidemic. What I found extremely interesting is how Pollan explains his theories through a timeline, really giving us a history lesson on the evolution of processed foods and what else went along with the introduction of these foods to our diet.
Scientists have begun studying nutrients rather than whole foods. He paints a picture of how we have shifted towards a reductionist science where we are obsessed with breaking foods down to their nutritional value to try and recreate processed foods with enhanced nutrients. The problem is that these “artificially” produced nutrients may not have the exact same effect on the body. It makes sense when he speaks of this because if we really think about it, most foods have so many different things that make up their total value that can affect us. Not only that, but we know that some of these parts, whether nutrients, vitamins, minerals, or other constituents, may work differently in the body when paired with certain others, so separating one and putting it in a food will definitely not exhibit the same effect as just eating the simple foods which contain these nutrients already. We get away from the idea that food is the sum of its parts, and it is the whole food that actually benefits our health. The more a food is processed, the further it is from being a real food.
All of the things Pollan talks about really shed light on many of the issues that Americans are dealing with daily that nobody really talks about. Eating healthy and not really knowing what to eat because there are scientists, and journalists, and the government dictating what that should be eating, and they are not seeing the big picture. This leaves Americans stressed and obsessed with food, when they should be taking pleasure in eating and being healthy. The most important thing I took away from this part of the book was how Pollan states that we have finally come somewhat of a full circle back to a time when it is possible to eat well again. Because we have more and more of these foods coming back to the shelves of grocery stores, it is so important to educate ourselves on the harm of processed and enhanced foods, and really take it back to the simplicity of eating whole, real foods in order to finally find joy and pleasure in eating again. Pollan’s manifesto gives basic advice on how to get back to eating for our health including not just what to eat, but also how to eat it. What Pollan ultimately suggests is that we get back to eating real foods, whole foods with nutritional value, as he simply puts it, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. ” This book comes highly recommended to all and every individual out there! The message it sends is exactly what we need to educate and empower others to take their health seriously because every individual is in control of that!