Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Greening-up your diet just got easier

If you’re on a mission to green-up your diet and are looking for some quick guidance you’re in luck, Michael Pollan has a new book that proves it really isn’t that complicated to adopt a diet that’s healthier for you and the planet. Titled Food Rules, it’s a 140-page paperback that can be read in an hour but you might want to read it more than once and may be leave it on the counter as a reminder.

Pollan has written a couple of great books on how to eat but in this new book he has distilled his key ideas into dozens of easy-to-understand (some highly amusing) statements about what and how to eat. If ever there was a Coles Notes for eating well (in the green sense of the word) this book is it.

As I have mentioned before, I often get asked for green eating guidance. I only wish I was as clever and concise with my advice as Pollan. He’s the guy who summed up his food philosophy in seven words: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” By this he means eat whole food that you have prepared yourself, rather than prepackaged, highly processed edibles. He recommends that everyone eat more vegetables and treat meat more like a condiment. And in the context of these first two principles he recommends that we spend more on quality ingredients and eat less overall.

If you’re wondering where to begin with greening your diet the format of Pollan’s book works really well. He offers 64 starting points (what he calls rules) that make perfect sense and are so memorable that they’ll be running through your head at the grocery store just like a catchy tune.

Here are a few of my favourites:

-Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.
-It’s not food if it arrives through the window of your car.
-Avoid foods that you see advertised on television.
-Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
-Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
-Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.

Pollan is tough on highly processed foods, calling them “edible foodlike substances” and he backs up his criticism with a mix of facts and opinion that might have you feeling a little sheepish, depending on how you feel about your current diet. But he does end with the rule “Break the rules once in a while” because eating well most of the time is what we all need.

If you’re looking for more ways to green-up your diet I’ll be speaking about food at the Maritime Green Living Expo at the Trade & Convention Centre on Sunday, May 30. http://www.maritimegreenexpo.com/

No comments: