“Eat more leaves,” says Pollan

Reviewing “In Defense of Food”

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Thank you, Michael Pollan, for this simple advice. You’ve researched the heck out of the Western diet to show us it’s this easy to eat for better health. We just need to stop eating packaged food… especially those with packages boasting health benefits. And although you want us to eat more plants, you don’t make us give up on meat completely. Thank goodness!

Although I was already leery of processed foods, I’ll have no trouble now giving them up as often as I can… especially any of those with fructose near the top of the ingredient list. Who knew it was even worse for us than glucose, the sugar our bodies burn for energy? And who knew refined white flour was the first fast food? Apparently, processing makes the starch molecules in flour more easily digestible into glucose… that’s right, the fuel our bodies burn for energy. Our bodies were never built to handle such a flood of glucose all at once.

I’ll have more trouble with your advice to swap meat for leaves… I love meat! Maybe if I can just make leaves one of the main veggies on my plate every time I eat, and I cut down on the serving size of my meat course, that will be a step in the right direction?

After reading In Defense of Food, I ran down to the grocery store and came home with a bunch of red kale, a bundle of watercress, and a box of baby spinach and arugula. I found some simple recipes, and the kale and watercress were delicious. Tonight we start in on the box of mixed greens. I was so surprised to learn that green leaves are good sources of omega-3… a fat?!  Better yet, I learned that although omega-3 may be really good for us, it’s not the whole story – there are likely interactions with other unknowns in the leaves that account for their effectiveness in regulating our good health. So I’ll try to stay away from supplements and focus on eating real food instead.

It all makes sense, especially the way you explain it. Foods are such complex biochemical systems that it’s no wonder scientists are still straightening it all out.  Going back to eating like our parents and grandparents did, as you suggest, definitely means getting back into the kitchen… and spending more time at the table with our families. I like that idea. Let’s put culture back into agriculture and tradition back into family life.

I hope I’m not one of those people you warn us about, Michael, obsessing over healthy eating!  Just point me toward real foods that keep me healthy and let me indulge my love of eating for pleasure. From the information you’ve given us in your book, thank you for doing just that. So well researched and simply written, In Defense of Food is an asset for anyone concerned with eating a balanced diet. Check it out at the library today.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward
    Oct 25, 2013 @ 13:15:30

    “Just point me toward real foods that keep me healthy and let me indulge my love of eating for pleasure.”

    My sentiment exactly. Lovely review, Sharon!


  2. Professor
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 13:17:10

    Out of interest what is his basis for leaving meat out of his diet? Does he suggest a vegetarian diet?


    • Vinny Grette
      Feb 29, 2012 @ 16:17:56

      He doesn’t suggest leaving meat out of one’s diet, just cutting down on meat. He’d like to see us using meat as a condiment rather than the main element. We would replace it with more plant foods, which require less resources to produce than meat. It’s a great book and easy to read… just technical enough.


  3. theplumpalate
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 15:59:18

    Though I know it’s bad, I’ve never heard of white flour referred to as “the first fast food.” Thank you for that insight. Great post!


Leave a Reply to Professor Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: