Friday, June 3, 2011

On Diet Philosophies and The Food Bandwagon

I read this article over at Zen Habits about soy, and I was thinking about food bandwagons and how one finds oneself on one. Now I am not a big consumer of soy, but I have read about the Weston A. Price Foundation, and I think some of my thoughts on meat and raw milk and such have been impacted by the Price Foundation. I'm naturally legalistic and even when I try to break the rules, I'll usually try to find new rules to follow. Which is a strange thing for someone wanting to be a good steward.

Anyway, all to say I can be swayed like a reed in the wind.

So it's good I went to public health school and read a lot of journal articles, because they ground me, at least some of the time, in at least some good science. After two years of research, I'm starting to spend my days writing journal articles, and it's surprising to me how subjective even science can be. So this calls for a heavy dose of common sense when it comes to thinking about food. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food (aff. link) probably came the closest in helping me develop a food philosophy.

It seems obvious that things we cannot recognize as food are probably not great, because, well, they're not food! So that much is agreed upon.

There seems to be a strong argument not to eat a ton of red meat, mostly because it's completely unsustainable and likely bad for you, if you're long-lived, at least.

But beyond that, there are plenty of muddy waters. I eat what I eat not just because of health; I'm also thinking about sustainability, food miles, relative cost, whether I like the taste, how long it takes to prepare, giving and receiving hospitality, and so on and so on. After a week of eating great, simple, relatively healthy food in Korea I'm embarrassed to say that I NEEDED pizza. So there's all this cultural stuff going on, too.

Today, eating can seem like a political or social statement, and it is. But I can get carried away in the social statement instead of being focused on the reality of what tastes good, is cheap, local, and workable in my life. So I feel challenged to stay off at least some food bandwagons, and continue to weigh these competing motivations of sustainability, cost, taste etc on my very own.

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