Tuesday, May 4, 2010

America DOES Have an Eating Disorder

Michael Pollen, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, discusses in his introduction how America has an eating disorder. There are always the new fad diets like the Atkins diet, which limits bread intake. Americans follow these diets religiously, never questioning where the information comes from. We over think being trying to be healthy and instead end up with a huge problem. Pollen brings up the question of what are we eating for dinner and where does it come from? Why is it that America is the most obese country when other countries like France, eat “unhealthy” foods and are still healthier than us? These are all very important questions Pollen addresses in the book.

Pollen sets out to solve these questions by exploring the three food chains: industrial, organic, and hunter-gather. He finds that there are benefits and disadvantages from each chain.

I cannot say I have not tried eating less “unhealthy” food to try and lose weight. I have tried many diet tips and sometimes they may work, but not always. After reading this book I have been more concerned as to where my food is coming from and what is in it. Knowing this information can make a huge difference on whether the food is bad for me or not. For example, I would have never wanted to eat all-natural yogurt, which was not fat-free, a year ago. I wanted the Dannon eighty-calorie and one hundred percent fat-free yogurt. I was completely unaware of the chemicals like aspartame, which some believe to be a carcinogen, is contained in my fat-free yogurt. Now I’m starting to understand the importance of what is in the food because what I may think is healthy, could be harmful.

Most Americans have no idea where their food comes from and what is in it. They are completely unaware the cow they are eating was given antibiotics not meant for it, or the pesticide put in the soil of their produce can be harmful. Americans would not be the most obese country if they understood the importance of where their food comes from. If Americans would stop worrying about how many calories are in a bag of chips and instead start wondering what are in these chips?, things would be much different. Most do not even take the time to read the labels on a food can. For example, I picked up a can of BBQ Smoked Sausage and was startled when it said it contained chicken, pork, and beef. Isn’t sausage just supposed to come from pork?

It is important to know where your food comes from because it is important to take care of oneself. When one knows where food comes from and what has been done to it, they know exactly what is going into their body. We were not meant to be able to eat all the preservatives we consume when we eat McDonalds French fries. We are suppose to be able to eat plants that grow from the ground naturally and animals that eat plants which have not been sprayed with chemicals. Instead we are completely oblivious to what is in our food, and many Americans could care less. The irony in this is that Americans want to be “healthy” but are not recognizing the how to go about this.

Another point Pollen hits on is the art of food. Why should we demean food by not eating it because it is not “healthy”? Food is a beautiful and cultural aspect that we should respect. Just because a certain food might be high in fat, does not mean it is bad for you. Countries like France and Italy eat unhealthy food and are still healthier than us because they care more about the taste and quality as opposed to the calorie content.

If America wants to decrease the number of obese people in the country, it is going to need to realize that understanding where your food comes from and what is it in is more important than the percentage of fat in it. Industrial food is boring and not the best. Organic can have great results on ones health from eating it. Hunting and gathering food is supposed to come naturally for us, and when eating the correct food can also have tremendous benefits on our health. Food is a wonderful thing we have in our lives, and it should be respected at all levels.

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