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Don't just eat any thing

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. The book is about food production and agriculture in the US. It is also about man’s relation to food and to the culture of eating. This is not a review of the book, but rather a summary of my thoughts on this subject as it relates to my personal health and habits.

Many years ago I saw Super Size Me. Following that I stopped eating at McDonald’s and reduced my consumption of fast food in general. It wasn’t until I saw King Corn and The Future of Food that the reality of industrial agriculture began to sink in. I was increasingly disgusted by what I was eating.

I’ve been altering my food habits towards ones that I believe will support the goal of a healthier life. Habits, that were encouraged by my parents while I was growing up, but those that I easily ignored in my adult independence. My mom taught me that just about anything is good in moderation but nothing is good in excess. Pollan’s observations on food show just how much excess is involved in industrial food. Observations of my own diet revealed that I was having too much meat and processed food and not enough vegetables, whole grains and fruits. I also found a large amount of HFCS in my diet, mostly from soda, but also, and this was a surprise to me, from ketchup and other products.

Throughout my twenties, I didn’t think twice about what I was eating as long as it tasted good, and often, fast and convenient. My younger body could take that abuse without much consequence. My older body won’t tolerate abuse as it gets confused and transformed by the bad food I eat. It is imperative that I live a healthy life and for that it is necessary that I eat healthy food. Enough is enough.

Having moved to the US from India, I’ve always admired the nutrition label on foods sold here. What I had often ignored was the list of ingredients. Now, more than ever, I find that information very valuable when eating or buying food. Labeling is important and I would like to see it become even more descriptive to capture the source of ingredients and to their status as GMOs. I’m grateful to those that research information about food and agriculture and seek to have it readily accessible.

Over the last few months I’ve been eating much less meat. I have eliminated HFCS from my diet. I have greatly reduced the consumption of processed food and increased the consumption of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. I acknowledge that as I seek to minimize my consumption of unhealthy food I may occasionally give in to the desires of speed, convenience or taste. Having Liz in my life has significantly helped to reintroduce and encourage healthier eating habits. Her food ethic is much stronger than mine and she is acutely conscious of what she consumes.

As an omnivore I can eat many things, but I won’t just eat any thing.