If you know me you probably saw this post title and immediately ducked behind a wall in the hopes to hide from me when walking by and spare you from ten straight minutes of extolling the virtues of Pollan's In Defense of Food: an Eaters Manifesto (IDF) and the earlier The Omnivore's Dilemma(OD). OD detailed where our food comes from and IDF tells us what to do now that we know. As the weight problem grows in the US and food quality takes a backseat to quantity its so important to read books like this to help us become informed and make resulting informed choices. What follows are some highlights of advice from his book IDF but I'm merely skimming the surface, IDF deserves to be read from cover to cover several times.
Don't eat anything your great granny wouldn't recognize as food. Pretend that great granny is looking over your shoulder as you shop and if she'd think the squeezable cheese was a cleaning product don't consume it. (Pollan argues that most of edible stuff in the supermarket is not actually food, but a product of food highly processed) But because some food products resemble granny recognizable food...
Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a)unfamiliar b)unpronounceable c)more than five in number or that include d)High-fructose corn syrup.
Avoid food products that make health claims. Don't blindly trust claims, they can be wrong. The book has examples.
Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. The middle is where processed food goes to... well, not die.
Go to the farmer's market for better food. Here I caution that Pollan presumes all farmer's markets are local vendors and organic. Mine are not all necessarily, they're just huge grocery stores that resemble farmer's markets and are called farmer's markets but the food comes from all over and not necessarily organic.
Eat mostly plants especially leaves. We continue to learn the importance of plants. There's many vitamins like C and B that you really can't get without consuming them. Supplements can only take you so far.
You are what you eat eats too. The current industrial factory farming doesn't care about what our animals eat and that should matter to us because their growth hormones etc wind up in us. Beware of presuming free range is better. "Free range" doesn't mean the chick frolicked in a field of daisies. Instead, look for words like "pastured" (with poultry) "grass finished" or "100% grass fed" b/c ALL cows are initially grass fed so "grass fed" on a package doesn't mean much.
Eat like an omnivore. Eat a diverse diet and try new things because the more diversity in food the more bets your nutritional bases are covered.
Eat well grown food from healthy soils. Don't be fooled by organic, its usually better than the regular store but locally grown may be better quality and just may not have had the bling needed to get certified as organic..
NOT TOO MUCH
Pay more. Eat less. Quality over quantity. We spend way less on food than other countries but are bigger. It might seem to cost more now but the benefits to our long term health seem worth it. What bigger financial investment than you?
Eat Meals. We snack too much. Its almost like we can't function w/out constant food. Meals regulate how much we eat.
Do all your eating at a table. Desks don't count.
Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.
Try not to eat alone. We eat more mindfully when with others. Studies show people eat less in the presence of others and enjoy what they ate more.
Consult your gut. Studies show that thinner cultures stop eating when no longer hungry. Same studies show that Americans stop eating when the plate is empty or TV show is over, etc. Eat from your gut, not your external cues.
Eat Slowly. Not just to register fullness but to appreciate what you are eating.
Cook, and if you can plant a garden. If you make your own food you control what you eat. Gardens are also the best way to ensure organic food. My parents have guava and orange trees and the taste in these and store bought is noticeable.