The sell-out crowd cheered and clapped as he walked on stage... and clapped and clapped and clapped. The audience clapped so long, I think he blushed.
Author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire, and the upcoming Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids, Michael Pollan is the authority on eating for personal health and the health of the planet. And, he is a very funny man.
He brought with him a bag full of "food" from the local supermarket.
- Froot Loops - now with fiber
- Pop Tarts - with blue filling and purple frosting
- Go-Gurt - yogurt tubes
- Wonder bread - whole grain white bread
- Twinkies - need I say more?
Taken out of their normal context of the grocery store, have you ever stopped to think just how weird this stuff is? Sugar-laden circles in every color of the rainbow, which now carry an industry-derived Smart Choice Program label - despite the fact that Froot Loops are 44% sugar. How is that a "Smart Choice"? According to one board member, "It's better for you than donuts." And then there are Pop Tarts... frosting for breakfast. Mmm... nutritious. Bread, bread is food, right? Have you ever read the ingredient list on a packaged loaf of bread? Wonder bread consists of 23 ingredients! Last I knew bread contained 4 ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt. 5 if you are feeding your yeast sugar. But, that is it. What the hell are the other 18?
It's practically spinach.
What ever happened to eating oh, say a carrot? No label needed to tell you that it is nutritious or, talking toucan to persuade you to eat it. Perhaps that is part of the problem. Throughout his presentation, Michael Pollan delivered simple rules to follow to guide your food choices.
Would your great-grandmother recognize it as food?
Yogurt you slurp from a tube, I think not.
Will it rot?
Food is/was alive. It is meant to die and rot. Little yellow-spongy cakes that remain so after two years are probably not something you want to ingest. If it can sit around for so long without insects and rodents even touching it, do you really want to eat it? What is in that stuff? Look for an expiration date. He admitted a flaw with this rule. Manufacturers have gotten wise to this and now include freshness dates on most products. Which brings to the last rule he left us with and the one that resonated with me the most:
Do not eat anything you saw advertised on television.
Simple enough. That effectively eliminates nearly every processed food product out there.
I do not need to preach to the choir here. Just use common sense. If it came from the ground = good. If it came out of a box = bad. If it came out of a technicolor box with any cartoon character emblazoned on the front and claims to now contain fiber, whole grain, calcium, vitamin D, omega-3, antioxidants, no trans-fat, or any other such buzz word of the moment = put the box down and run for the produce section!
In the end, he received a standing ovation and I immediately rushed the stage for an autograph. It was like a rock concert for foodies. Although when he threw the Twinkies from the stage, there were no battles in the crowd to catch them. I say, rock on Michael Pollan... rock on!