As I mentioned yesterday, I am going to talk about calories and money. We are used to calling what and how we eat in North America (and globally now) the Standard American Diet or SAD (funny yet true) but after having read "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan, I would prefer a more apt description; the Capitalist Diet. Why? Well, our food system's main raison d'etre has been to increase food yields and to sell food as cheaply as possible. This focus has created a sort of blind spot which is the "incremental erosion in the nutritional quality of our food". (Pg 119). This nutritional deficit gets magnified in our bodies due to the simple fact that we have to eat more food in order to get the same amount of nutrients (a craving could be the result of this).
I could go on for a while about this because it is so astounding how our food culture and our health as a society has come to this point in time. Instead, I will point out a couple of theories from the book which exemplify the situation.
One theory of how food can "grow up" undernourished is due to the chemical fertilizers which they are grown in. These encourage the plant to grow more quickly and therefore gives them less time to accumulate nutrients. Simple. (organic produce is of course grown with the opposite in mind).
Another theory which illuminates how a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet is responsible for many chronic diseases including cancer is that this way of eating actually mimics DNA damage similar to that of radiation. The micronutrient (vitamin and minerals) deficiencies which occur in our bodies with this diet are subtle so we don't see scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) or rickets (vitamin D deficiency) however our DNA is still being altered by oxidative stress or free-radical damage; a potential precursor to cancer. This theory also sheds light on the obesity crisis; a body starved of critical nutrients will keep eating in the hope of obtaining them.
The moral of the story is 1) eat your fruits and veggies 2) eat "real food" which is as less processed as possible 3) go for quality not quantity.
As a holistic nutritionist, I found many gems in Pollan's book. It's not only well-written and researched but very appropriate in addressing the most critical issues that face us in food and health today.