There’s plenty of room on the dinner plate for everyone’s tastes
We all know them.
The people who roll their eyes at meals and make comments like, “You’re eating white sugar? Don’t you know that’s poison?” Or, “OMG, you so have to start eating clean.”
You do not want to be that super-annoying person, no matter how good your intentions are.
At the same time, it’s true that the average American’s relationship with food is the original “It’s complicated.” Food is part of comfort, culture and family. But it’s also a huge part of health, the subject of the recent eight-day online summit, “Food Revolution,” during which multiple voices contributed views on topics ranging from super foods to compassionate eating to the “Four Pillars of Health.”
There was a rather uncomfortable underlying “infomercial” feel to some of the promotional materials, and some of the speakers are not universally regarded for their expertise. But many are. And what they had to say reinforces the idea that with food, as with most things, knowledge is power. Understanding what is going on with food globally and locally, including growing it, raising it, distributing it and eating it, means that you can make consistently better choices.
It does not mean you have to give up everything you love, and it does not mean you have to be in a constant state of anxiety. New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker, one of the “Food Revolution” speakers, is a healthy food advocate and a vegan, but he put it this way, “I am not going to judge you for your choices. But I want to know as much as I can [about the food I eat] and I think most people do as well.”
In other words, there’s a happy medium between being a Food Nazi, whose “food purity” obsession drives everyone else crazy, and a Food Ostrich, whose head-in-the-sand attitude towards what they’re eating is a direct path to heart disease, diabetes and in Big Picture terms, poisoning of the planet.
Mimi Guarneri, M.D., one of the first day’s speakers, pointed out that Western doctors typically receive virtually no training in nutrition, and yet, she says, “Food is also your first medicine—not a pill.” She noted “gobs of bad food coupled with stress” are reasons why so many people never feel quite well.
Neal Barnard, M.D., reinforced current thinking that a plant-based diet is the healthiest (please note based; he was not suggesting everyone turn vegan or vegetarian), but that much research is still being done on optimum food choices. Southerners, rejoice, because the humble sweet potato is coming into its own as a “super food,” although likely not slathered with butter and sugar.
Another speaker, Dr. Jane Goodall, famous worldwide for her decades of primate research, is now spending a great deal of time on her “Roots & Shoots” program, which focuses on growing plants locally to feed both humans and animals. As a result of this, she explained, she’s become an advocate of a food system that is “not contaminated by poisons.”
So what’s the take-away? No big surprise: Educate yourself. Sometimes indulgence is the best choice you can make. But in the long run, you really are what you eat.