Eco-Living Magazine

The Clash of Food

Posted on the 06 December 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

I recently read Michael Pollan’s  newest book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation while also listening to Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.  These books really show two drastic sides in our food system.

Pollan’s book goes into the many ways we can cook our food to make it easier for our bodies to digest.  Fire, water, air and earth is how he broke up the book.  In each of these scenarios he goes into how we use these “elements” to help us cook food and how it all began.  His descriptions are enticing and make you want to eat all the food he is cooking.  He is also cooking from scratch and using real ingredients.  For fire he discusses BBQ and learns to cook a whole hog.  For air he learns to make whole wheat sourdough bread and sourdough culture.  For water he braises many meals.  In earth he discusses the many ways we can culture food, foods like cheese, sauerkraut, beer and wine.

Moss’s book is entirely different.  He focuses on convenience foods and processed foods and how manufacturers have made their food to make us eat more of it.  In each category sugar, salt and fat he discusses the research food manufacturers have done to make these foods taste better to us.  They have also found ways to add more of these substances to our food without us acknowledging it while eating.  When you eat fatty foods you can taste it and then your body tells you to stop eating at the right time.  But processed food has made it so your body isn’t always able to pick up fat in foods and then you eat more.  While this  is great for food companies, it’s really terrible for your health.  This can be true for sugar and salt as well.

While Pollan’s book makes your mouth water and look forward to a good meal, Moss’s turns your stomach.  It is really disgusting what food companies will do to make money.  Their food is often not good for us and their labeling is almost always misleading.

In today’s world it is hard to completely avoid processed food, because even if you do most of your cooking from scratch you still most likely buy some processed foods.  Foods such as milk, pasta and cheese (unless specialty cheese) is still processed in today’s food world.  While these are minimally processed they are still processed.  Personally I have more time (since I stay at home) and I make it a priority to make meals from scratch, I am really into knowing everything that goes into my dinner.  And when I say from scratch I don’t mean using a cake mix box plus some extra ingredients, but Pinterest seems to have a different opinion than I do on that.   The term “from scratch” has a completely different meaning now than it does 50 years ago.  Pollan goes into the differences that people think of when they mean from scratch, which is very intriguing.

If you are interested in our food systems I would recommend both of these books.  While they cover very different concepts of the food system they both have very good information and help to understand the food system as a whole.

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