Thursday, January 17, 2008


I went to an interesting talk the other night sponsored by Harry W. Schwartz Book Store at Alverno College here in Milwaukee. The guest speaker was Michael Pollan the author of previous books, The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire. He is a graduate of Berkley's school of journalism and is also Knight professor of Journalism at Berkley. Critically acclaimed, Pollan brings forth interesting topics of discussion, how food gets to our table and how we have transitioned from real food to "edible food like substances" no longer the product of nature but of food science. He talked about his new book, In Defense of Food "

I read his last book and got 3/4 of the way through it and had to put it down. Each chapter was an eye-opening learning adventure that was brutally honest, and at times disturbing. In which I started to think I would have to become a pure vegetarian. The book undoubtedly raised awareness of my eating habits, albeit I think I eat quite healthy according to my own education and cultural practices handed down by my European ancestors as well as grandmother. Pollan has spiked a curiosity in me as well as some close friends to investigate further our own practices.

He encourages his audience to explore their own eating habits and gives some simple suggestions on how to start.

Eat things that have five or less ingredients. If it has more, is it really food?

Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup at all costs.

Take your time eating, enjoy your food! Relax.

Never eat Gas Station Food.

Pollan has certainly sparked a good challenge and many argue against his political claims. I am certainly willing to take the challenge and see how easy or what barriers there are in obtaining a more natural food diet here in America.

I would love to hear from all of you and hope you try this challenge too. Take just one day and try to find foods that have five or less ingredients to eat. I think it would be an eye opening experience for all of my 50 + viewers:)

Things I would like to hear about...

* Let me know how much of it you had to eat before becoming satisfied.

* What barriers or obstacles did you face in obtaining your natural food.

* What was the cost?

* Were you able to obtain it in your place of employment?

* How about at your Doctor's office?

* Is it too much work for you to think of cooking?

* Do you even like to cook or know how?

* Do you even care about what ingredients are in the food you eat?

* BONUS POINTS what kind of sports drink did you find that would sustain you through a race or tough workout.


Spinninmud said...

Pig only ingredients Bacon.......just kidding.
I have looked into some of this on my diet. I have found out it is very hard to figure this out. A lot of veggies, fruit and fish.
The problem is even the stuff from natural food stores have more the five ingredients. I have taken the road of low fat and low calories, I always watch the sugar and try to keep to natural sugar,ie fruit with food that needs sweetening.

Amy said...

I have been trying to avoid corn syrup in the last year or so and it's been difficult. I still have a sweet tooth, so I have to do alot of label reading.

I'll keep your questionnaire in mind. I do ok with keeping my regular food simple without lots of ingredients, it's the snack food (candy) that's harder. (And yes,I know it would be better if I didn't eat any candy!)

Christine said...

I am happy to say my cereal for breakfast had three ingredients, Kashi's Autum Wheat has organic whole wheat , organic evaporated cane juice, natural flavor. This is suprising for a packaged product but what is "natural flavor" is that an ingredient? Then you have to think about the milk I used for the cereal. Did the cow eat grass? I doubt it. most likely corn fed. By the way, cows were meant to eat grass not corn. This in turn will mess with the genetic makeup and on and on ... This all gets pretty deep but really interesting.

sugs said...

Just think how far ahead of their time the band Devo was. The de-evolution is ramping up. If we let it get to carried away soon we all will just pull leaves from trees...unfertilized of course, to eat, then occasionally eat bugs & slugs for a little extra protein for the endurance events that we participate in. For realistic success; eat natural things. By natural I don't necessarily mean things carrying the trendy "organic" label. Eat things that grow that have not been processed/altered from their original state. Simply fresh veggies, fruit & meat as you primary source of calories. This does not mean that these things are uncut or trimmed of waste. If you simply did this, think of what an improvement it would be from where you used to be and where 99.9% of the U.S still is.

Christine said...

I forgot to add that I know how dificult it is for some people to give up sugar or cut back. Don't forget, I live with "Captain Candy". Although he now has turned to healthier stuff like dark chocolate.

Now I'll have to hire a gardener so I can still keeep up with my biking schedule, it never ends.

Squirt said...

I too, have been attempting to eat food that is not processed which means lots of cooking and prepping. So, to cut down on this during the week, I tend to cook a few dinners on Sunday and then eat those meals throughout the week so I’m not a slave to the kitchen. I find eating smaller meals, five to six times a day, actually fills me up and my co-workers are not constantly hearing me say “I’m hungry” every ten minutes. And, I’ve found that eating this way (the fruits, veggies, grains and protein) totally does fill me up, much more than eating all that processed food.

Your question about finding this type of food at your place of employment had me laughing. You would think in a hospital the food would be healthy…totally opposite. It’s loaded with salt, sugar and fat. It’s totally gross and disgusting.

Anonymous said...

that dude looks like jerry D !!

Christine said...

Hospital food is the worst. If I forget to pack my lunch I am forced with really bad choices in our deli with the exception of a few sandwhiches. You would think this would be the first place to inforce healthy eating. The emplyoee cafeteria is maybe a bit better but they still offer junk food too. I love their soup but I look at the amount of sodium content and cringe. And to think some of the patients are eating this stuff is alarming!

TmonT said...

my stomach reports that 4 items with 5 or less ingredients looks exactly like one item with 20 ingredients, once it gets through with them. maybe it should go on a book tour !! :)

Jim G said...

Malted barley, hops and water.

MTB Girl said...

I think it's very interesting how suddenly the world is on this "healthy eating kick". We're living longer and longer, becoming healthier and healthier. . . but in the end does it really matter? I see other competitive cyclists who eat CRAP and still outperform me. There are others who ride/train 1/10th of the time I ride and still out perform me. And I have friends who can eat nearly twice the calories I do every day and still stay "thinner" than I am. I'm beginning to think in the end, it doesn't really matter. I guess one has to do what makes them FEEL good. . . whatever that may be.

Anonymous said...

Evaporated cane juice is a natural "high fructose corn syrup". It is still bad for you.

Most organic milk comes from cows that eat grass. The one I feed my kids does. It says so on the label (including no hormones, no antibiotics). Why would you ever feed you kids anything but organic? I have no idea.