Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eating Simply

Vegan or Omnivore?

Organic or Local?

Carbs or Protein?

Fruit or Vegetables?

Dairy or Soy?

So many complex questions surround the question of what to eat. Michael Pollan, author of "In Defense of Food", offers a simple heuristic that I can get behind: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

Eat food is not quite as simple as it sounds, since we are surrounded by many products that appear to be food, but are really what Pollan calls "food-like substances." For an item to be deemed "food" it must be a whole or minimally processed food. Energy bars, candy, chips, frozen entrees, luncheon meats, soda, and a host of other items you'd find on supermarket shelves do not fit the bill. So, eating food may be simple, but not necessarily easy.

Next, we have not too much. This is a tough one for me and likely anyone who was raised to "finish your plate!" Food is so plentiful and cheap these days that we really do eat a lot of it. Noticing when you're near full and putting down the fork is the best way to eat just enough. Eating only what we need and leaving the rest is a way of practicing non-greed.

Finally we are implored to eat mostly plants. This sounds reasonable to me. After all, if one is eating only food, the types of meat we can eat are limited to begin with. Pollan encourages readers to eat grass finished, organically raised meats which will contain less non-food substances like antibiotics and hormones. If we purchase these more expensive meats, chances are we will eat less of them. What do we fill up the rest of out plates with? Well mostly plants of course. Leafy greens in particular and then an assortment of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

To follow this eating plan is in keeping with my three tenets of simple living. First, by eating whole foods that I prepare myself I am practicing frugality. By resisting the urge to eat "food-like substances" such as (my weakness) potato chips I am practicing contentment. Finally, by not eating too much I am practicing non-greed.

This plan sounds pretty wise to me. I think I'll try it out. I'll let you know in Friday's Personal Journey Series post how it goes. What do you think of Pollan's plan?

Take Care,


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