The Food Industry Today & 12 Food Rules You Should Follow
By Kimberly Parsons
Kimberly Parsons author of ‘The Yoga Kitchen’
This article isn’t about overwhelming you with more confusing and contradicting rules about food and nutrition. The fight isn’t about whether we eat meat or not, or whether we follow a raw, vegan or gluten-free diet. In my opinion the battle ends when we stop shovelling processed, packaged, chemical laden foods into our bodies, start feeding ourselves with real food and tuning into what our bodies really want instead. What I am striving for, is to share the simple beauty of creating a culinary foundation based on the natural laws of the earth, eat food that mother nature provides and you cant go wrong. Whatever comes after that is a personal decision and its one that no one else can make but you. Read the information I’m about to share with you, go away and enjoy preparing and eating foods based on the rules I will share with you and then come to a conclusion about what works best and makes the most sense to you.
THE FOOD INDUSTRY TODAY
Eating ‘food’ isn’t as simple as it sounds anymore. For a while, food used to be all that you could eat, however today there are thousands of other edible food-like substances on our supermarket shelves. These novel products of food science often come in packages elaborately decorated with health claims (a word of advice, if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication its not really food. That health claim was probably bought by the food product’s company for a hefty price and added to the label to help sell the product, not because it is genuinely healthy! Sad but true!)
Now you can see why everything is so confusing! And confused we are! We have the dairy industry telling us to drink more milk for healthy bones and teeth! The meat industry telling us its okay to eat meat with every meal. It’s no wonder we find ourselves the only species on the planet who has to rely on bloggers, journalists, doctors and nutritionists to tell us what to eat everyday.
Surely this most basic conduct of our daily lives should be instinctual, embedded at childhood as it is in other species. (Cows know that grass has all the nutrients they require and they never feel the need to deviate from it.) In fact, for most of human history, humans have eaten healthily without the need to consult expert advice on the matter of what to eat. Instead, we allowed culture to guide us, or perhaps a simpler way of putting it, we allowed our mothers to dictate what we ate, how much of it, in what order, with what, when and whom with. But over the last several decades, mothers have seemingly lost her authority over the dinner plate, loosing it to scientists, governments and food marketers or an unhealthy alliance of all three, with their ever-shifting dietary guidelines, food-labelling rules and perplexing pyramids.
So how have we found ourselves in this mess? Well one force is the 32-billion dollar food-marketing machine that thrives on change for its own longevity. Another is the constantly shifting knowledge of nutrition science that, depending on your point of view, is steadily advancing in its research or is just changing its mind a lot because it is flawed science that knows much less than it cares to admit (with its suspect funding systems!). But humans deciding what to eat without clever marketing or professional advice is seriously unprofitable if you’re a food company; boring if you’re a journalist or blogger and career ending if you’re a nutritionist. Thus the need for the great scientific complexity of our food and nutrition needs.
Isn’t it interesting that with all this new and exciting research and professional advice we have at our fingertips we haven’t become any healthier? In fact, to the contrary, the opposite has happened. We are fatter and less healthier than our ancestors and for the first time in history we are looking at a situation whereby our children will live shorter lifespans than our own. We as humans are the only losers here. Our health and happiness suffer in order for food companies to keep making new food products
For the first time in history we are looking at a situation where over-nutrition is emerging as a more serious threat to our health than under-nutrition. I suggest that most of what we’re consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we are consuming it – in the car, on the sofa in front of the TV and increasingly, alone – is not really eating, at least not in the sense that our ancestors understood the term.
Not surprisingly, due to all the processing, manipulation and confusion within the food industry we are now seeing a revolt against the western diet and a new modernisation of it. The craze and rise of the ‘healthy’ recipe book and health bloggers is testament to this change. However, this modernisation of the western diet still finds itself within the confines of the western diet. Reinventing itself in the same confusing and inadequately researched nutrition model that we have found ourselves in for the last century. The food industry is happy, this new craze gives them the opportunity to go and reinvent their products yet again and bring out new and ‘healthier’ versions (zero coke, hazelnut snickers (instead of peanuts) and Quorn).
As we have been discussing, today the food industry trades on their ability to continually carry out research on foods. The term they use to describe this is ‘nutritionism’. A system of needing to breakdown the foods we eat into constituents so that they can do empirical and reductionist research on the food item meaning our terminology and understanding of food remains totally nutrient based. Therefore ignoring the idea that food is essentially the sum of their nutrient parts and ideally utilised as a whole food to receive its total healthful benefits.
What nutritionism has created are three pernicious myths about food:
1. That what matters most is not the food itself but the ‘nutrient’ instead.
2. That because nutrients are invisible and incomprehensible to everyone but scientists, we need expert help in deciding what to eat
3. That the purpose of eating is to promote a narrow concept of physical health
Because food in this view is foremost a matter of biology, it follows that we must try to eat ‘scientifically’ – by the nutrient and the number and under the guidance of experts. We forget that, historically, people have eaten for a great many reasons other than biological necessity. Food is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationships to the natural world and about expressing our identity. For as long as humans have been taking meals together, eating has been as much about culture as it has been about biology. That eating should foremost be about bodily health is a relatively new concept and I think a destructive one. Destructive not just to the pleasure of eating and food culture in our societies but to our mental states also. We are fast becoming a generation of orthorexic people: people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Although currently untested, I am willing to bet that researchers will very soon find an inverse correlation between the amount of time people spend worrying about nutrition and their overall health and happiness. That is why I never advocate diets, instead I advocate and educate people to listening to what their body needs and wants, making it easy and as stress free as possible to live in balance. I advocate the common sense rule when we look at health claims for our bodies. I choose to eat in the paradigm when food consisted of mother nature’s magic rather than the numbered gibberish we read on the back of ingredients labels. A time when we didn’t need a science textbook to decipher nutrition claims and when foods had a shelf life shorter than our attention spans.
12 Food Rules You Should Follow
Below is a list of 12 healthy eating rules summarised from ‘Food Rules’ by Michael Pollan. These are meant to help you navigate a road towards being able to work out “what should I eat?” and understand how to decipher this confusing world of nutritionism and western diet gibberish:
1. Don’t eat anything that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food. That includes all food products containing ingredients that are either unfamiliar, unpronounceable or contain high-fructose corn syrup. Choose to eat whole, vibrant, colourful, raw foods.
2. Avoid all food products that make health claims or are advertised on television. Pay a little more, eat less of far greater quality.
3. Avoid foods that have sugar or sweetener listed among the tope 3 ingredients. Instead eat sweet foods as you find them in nature such as ripe fruits or fresh coconut water.
4. If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t! Similarly avoid food products with wording such as ‘lite’, ‘low-fat’ or ‘non-fat’. Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not i.e. margarine, skim milk, quorn.
5. Shop for food outside of the supermarket. Utilise farmers markets, local bakers, butchers, greengrocers and local producers. Forage and eat wild foods where possible.
6. Only eat foods that will eventually rot or you can picture in their raw state growing in nature. Eat well-grown food from healthy soil. You are what you eat eats too.
7. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Treat meat as a side serving or an occasion food and if you do eat meat, eat animals that have themselves eaten well. Avoid fish at the top of the food chain such as swordfish, tuna and shark. Instead eat small, oily fish varieties such as sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
8. Follow this Chinese proverb: “Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs and other mammals).”
9. Eat foods which have been pre-digested by bacteria or funghi such as sauerkraut, tamari, kimchi and sourdough bread.
10. Eat meals and eat with people, around a table (a desk is not a table). Its not food if it came through the window of your car and never get your fuel from the same place your car does.
11. Eat when you are hungry not when you are bored and stop eating before you are full. Cook and if you can plant a garden, or at least a herb garden.
12. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. But break the rules once in a while and treat treats as treats.
Thankyou for reading and thankyou Skip It Community.