Life-altering freebies

I live near Chicago, so it was a surprising Sunday morning when I found a sample Sunday New York Times in my driveway alongside my Chicago Tribune. This is going back a while now to January 28, 2007, but something I read in that free New York Times changed me. Or at least pointed the way to a change I would ultimately make (apparently, I am no one to rush through a contemplation phase).

Michael Pollan wrote Unhappy Meals, The Age of Nutritionism: How scientists have ruined the way we eat. He has since adapted this article into a full-length book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.
(If you haven't already, please read In Defense of Food.)

Michael Pollan's message is this: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Nutritionism (different from nutrition) is the scientific pursuit and examination of the specific healthful nutrients in the fruits and vegetables and whole grains (that everyone knows we should all be eating). Sounds beneficial, but Pollan points to the (unintended?) result:

Nutritionism, which arose to help us deal with the problems of the Western diet, has largely been co-opted by it, used by the industry to sell more food and to undermine the authority of traditional ways of eating.


...most of the nutritional advice we've received over the last half century (and in particular the advice to replace the fats in our diets with carbohydrates) has actually made us less healthy and considerably fatter.

Well, that's a mean trick.


That's the great thing about eating food as compared with nutrients: you don't need to fathom a carrot's complexity to reap its benefits.

If that were the only exquisite sentence Pollan crafted, my devotion would be absolute. That it also provides the caring cool-kid's rescuing hand from the nutritionism bullies surrounding us? That's magic.