Shopping Tips from Michael Pollan

Julie’s Health Club passes along some great food shopping tips from Michael Pollan. Take a look:
Rather than a rating system, what we need is common sense. And Pollan, thankfully, has provided some logical rules of thumb to help you find the kind of food you should eat: real food that doesn't lie to your body.
  1. DON'T EAT ANYTHING YOUR GREAT-GRANDMOTHER WOULDN'T RECOGNIZE AS FOOD. No Go-Gurt Portable Yogurt tubes. (She wouldn't be able to identify high-fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, kosher gelatin, carrageenan, tricalcium phosphate, natural and artificial flavors, etc.) No "protein waters," "nondairy creamers" or foods that never grow stale.
  2. AVOID FOOD PRODUCTS CONTAINING INGREDIENTS THAT ARE A) UNFAMILIAR, B) UNPRONOUNCABLE, C) MORE THAN FIVE IN NUMBER, OR THAT INCLUDE D) HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Pollan's example: Sara Lee's Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread, which fails every test proposed by this rule. "If not for the indulgence of the Food and Drug Administration, (it) could not even be labeled "bread," he wrote.
  3. AVOID PRODUCTS THAT MAKE HEALTH CLAIMS. If a food has a health claim, it probably has a package and that means it's very likely processed. Moreover, the FDA's "qualified" health claims" are all but meaningless.
  4. SHOP THE PERIPHERIES OF THE SUPERMARKET AND STAY OUT OF THE MIDDLE. "Processed foods products dominate the center aisles of the store while the cases of ostensibly fresh food--dairy, produce, meat and fish--line the walls," Pollan wrote. Be careful though, because high-fructose corn syrup lurks in the dairy case.
  5. GET OUT OF THE SUPERMARKET WHENEVER POSSIBLE. "You won't find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmer's market. Also look into CSA (community supported agriculture), in which you can subscribe to a farm and receive a box of produce.)"
Hey, you know I’m loving the one about community supported agriculture—come on spring!
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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Sara - March 21, 2008 12:57 PM

Nah, this is good to a certain degree, but his advice gets silly, too. My frozen produce has health claims--it's still healthy though. And my great-grandmother wouldn't know many healthy things I eat--mangos, tofu, tempeh, dragonfruit, papaya. Also my great-grandmothers were from different ends of the world so they wouldn't have recognized what the *other* ate as food! As for #2, I studied science, so I *can* pronounce them and know what they mean--but I'm being contrary there, I admit, I get the gist of it.

#4 and 5 seem solid, I like those a lot. 5 is only possible in the summer where I live, but still great.

Gerry Pugliese - March 21, 2008 1:15 PM

Hey Sara-

Yeah, Pollan isn't 100% in line with Dr. Fuhrman, but overall, I like his work.


Jayson - March 23, 2008 12:01 PM

The statement eat nothing that has parents could be

We pretty much shop the periphery of the supermarket. And we are constant label readers, its incredible the "ingredients" that are in foods, does jelly really need HFCS ?

Getting the garden ready now :-)

Pollan is an interesting read, his book the Omnivores Dilemm seems to take a larger view of the food industry, from producers to consumers.


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