Defining Food

Midge, our Ameraucana, laid her first blue eggs!

So, if you were going to define the word "food", how would you think it is defined in the dictionary, and how would you personally define this word?

The official definition of food is: any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy,  promote growth, etc.

What is your definition of food?

Now, another question:  do you think that most of the food in the supermarket today is truly FOOD?

Sadly, most of the food in the common supermarket today is a product of science, not a product of nature. That fact alone should make us take pause, and reflect - is what we buy to nourish our bodies GOOD for us, or is it leading us down a potential path to ill health and chronic disease?

I think it makes sense to remember, the food industry is just that -- an INDUSTRY.  It behooves all of us to realize that the major food manufacturers are in this to make money, and lots of it.

Let's face it: processed food is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it ain't going away anytime soon.

My biggest awakening to date has been reading Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.

And my biggest AHA moment while reading this book, (which, by the way, I read over the last 3 days), was the following historic moment when everything changed for the worse in the food industry...

In 1968, a committee was formed in Washington with a mandate to eliminate malnutrition and its work led to the establishment of several important food assistance programs.  This committee, the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, which was chaired by South Dakota Senator George McGovern, held hearings in 1978 on the alarming increase in chronic disease linked to diet - including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

This committee learned that while rates of coronary heart disease had soared in post-WWII America, certain other cultures that consumed traditional diets based mostly on plants had very low rates of chronic disease.  It was also observed that when Americans consumed less dairy and meat during the war years due to rationing, the rate of heart disease had temporarily plummeted.

So in 1977 the committee issued a straightforward set of dietary guidelines recommending that Americans eat less red meat and dairy products.

Now, do you see where this is leading?

A firestorm of criticism erupted, coming chiefly from the red meat and dairy industries.  Senator McGovern, who had a lot of cattle ranchers among his South Dakota constituents, was forced to beat a hasty retreat.  The recommendations were quickly rewritten and plain talk about actual food was replaced by "choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated fat intake."

This was a momentous turning point in our nation's food conversation.  Never again would an actual food be demonized.  Instead, from this point forward, the governmental institutions realized that they could only speak of nutrients, not of food, or the food industry in question would raise arms.

Have you noticed that you only hear about polyphenols, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, omega 3's or 6's, carbohydrates, protein.... the list goes on.  You don't hear about actual food products.

At any rate, I am highly recommending this book.  It's not a diet book.  It's a book about the state of our Western food diet, and how it is slowly killing us, its eaters.  It's a recommendation to get back to our roots, our culture, our traditions and eat food the way it was supposed to be eaten.

Here's another interesting parallel:  the pharmaceuticals and healthcare industry are both more than happy to help out with all the chronic diseases that our diet is causing.  I wonder why.  You don't think it has anything at all to do with MONEY?!

Follow along tomorrow as I give you a short, short list of food rules that you can carry with you to the supermarket.

Oh and one more thing.  If you're really interested in getting off the Western food diet bandwagon, here's a really fun website to check out, about a family who did just that for 100 days, and how it radically changed their lifestyle for the better.

I know I'm ready to make the jump.  I'm already avoiding the center aisles in the grocery store.

I bought my first Asian pear last night, and ate it for lunch today.  It was good, but my husband said they tasted wayyyyy better when he had them in Japan.   :-)


  1. I really like the 100 days link and put it in my favorites when you sent it to me awhile back. I always make the excuse that I'm too busy to prepare "good" food... I need to quit making excuses!

  2. Hubby was in Japan? During WWII?? Very interesting reading, I enjoyed this! Try your Asian pear with a bit of low-fat'll make your toes squeal with delight, I promise you!

  3. I find this very interesting Susan. I remember reading something about this before and now I'm really looking forward to your next post. I'm going to check out the link you mentioned. I hope you're enjoying this cooler weather :)

  4. Organic food = <3

    I knew I was pop over when I bought organic sunflower oil.....