Friday, October 16, 2009


I will admit upfront that I take vitamins and supplements. I worry about whether I consume sufficient vitamin B. R has a vitamin D deficiency. Our fridge if full of Ostelin, Inner Health Plus, Zinc supplements… the list goes on.

Last year I was sitting chanel surfing through all the crap that’s on our television airways when I saw an interview with Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food.

Michael was discussing carrots. He talked about how much time and energy scientists have spent in order to discover and extract the goodness of the humble carrot – vitamin A. Phew, now we can just add that to the list of supplements and not worry about nutrition. Now comes the bit that really piqued my interest – what if it’s the inherent carrot-ness of the carrot that are good for you? Sure, vitamin A is in there, but is vitamin A so wonderful when all the other great stuff about the carrot is taken away?

As a society should we be throwing out the vitamins and eating carrots with gusto?

Naturally I rushed to the bookshop to buy Michael’s book and it was great. He calls it a manifesto but it’s pretty simple really – ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ This concept kicks the but of Atkins. And the Zone. And Weight Watchers.

He also discusses the rise ‘edible food like substances’, which should be avoided at all costs. If it’s a food your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food don’t eat it. If it has more than 3 ingredients don’t eat it. If it has unpronounceable ingredients don’t eat it. Another good tip is to beware products that make big health claims.

Here’s a great example of this principle in action. Which one is better for you?

Harmonie Organic salted butter

organic cream

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

Vegetable Mono and Diglycerides
Rice Starch
Salt, Gelatin
Vegetable Datem
Potassium Sorbate
Calcium Disodium EDTA
Natural Soy Lecithin
Lactic Acid
Natural and Artificial Flavour
Vitamin A (Palmitate)
Beta Carotene

Scary stuff huh?!

This week I did a Pollan style pantry audit and I’ll be honest, a few things went into the bin. Since I read In Defense of Food I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure I used the best quality ingredients in my cooking. When I cook bread and butter pudding commercially baked bread is out, Sonoma sourdough is in. Any kind of ‘spread’ is out, organic butter is in.

Sure there are times when a person craves a Big Mac, but as a general guide to cooking and shopping I think Michael Pollan’s ‘manifesto’ is awesome.

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