After learning so much from Pollan’s exposition in the first two parts, one can only imagine how damaging it is to human health and well – being if people were to continue adapting the Western lifestyle. First of all, to the food industry that clogs Western society with thousands of food products, we are but a link to their chain of processed foods that (and not ‘who’) consume in volumes than quality. Naturally, we lose our persona of that of a contributor to the food chain.
Rather we are just end – users, frolicking from one set of information to another – and of course, from a bunch of food products to another – as we try to figure out the way to good health. Yet no one seems to notice and address this concern for real. I had also been wondering what to eat and how and this book achieved what it purported to answer. But coming from Western society that consumes their publication pages with updates from research or studies conducted here and there, these same questions are interesting.
However, there are no readily available and truthful answers to be found in health claims and food labels. A great deal of time and explanation are needed before arriving at one sweeping answer. Pollan’s book highlighted a mine of curious discoveries in answer to this. Including that some studies that could flag the food industry are stashed in corners of libraries not getting widespread media attention. These are hidden the same way farmers’ produce are stashed aside – waiting for an extensively questioning person to find and spread its results around.
This is probably because there are no economic incentives involved in heralding the valid issues and concerns presented in such studies. Consider the findings that polyunsaturated fats and other substances in processed foods do not actually make a difference in the prevention of chronic diseases. This information is clogged and buried at the bottom of the heap of the food industry’s multi – billion dollar advertised claims. However, Pollan successfully searched and provided thorough answers to these questions and even recommends what and how to eat in the third part.
I particularly liked the part about healthy eating enhanced by social relations. It gives me more reason to value the tradition, cuisine and culture I grew up in and not adapt the Western lifestyle: eating food products or buying from supermarkets instead of the farmer’s market. Where I am from (Turkey), every meal is prepared from scratch and these are mostly whole foods or organic produce. Before it is laid on the table, there go the activities essential to relations: preparing food together, learning dishes from our mother, aunts, uncles or grandparents – even from elder siblings.
And that is just one part of the cycle. Thus, in a social sense, I certainly agree that there is ‘synergy’ in the finishing end of the cycle of food preparation: from soil to table. And such is concocted from growing or planting it in the soil up until it is finally eaten. May it well be that the contribution of every individual involved in the natural food chain adds up to the final food that is ‘more than the sum of its parts’? For instance, there are associations that come to mind when we think of food or eating.
One of them would be celebration. Be it a celebration of life, innocence, joy, or transitions, failures, pain or the whole spectrum of feelings that come with it. Even faith and the belief that there is some power stronger and bigger than we are that made all such foods available for us to savor and enjoy. And memories seem to make the food taste even better and signal to our bodily systems, increasing satiety. For me, food not only speaks for what it is made of or the nutrients it is composed of.
It speaks so much about who we are as persons, what we value and how we pay respects to other parts in the eco – system in which we thrive. Therefore with every meal we enjoy come cherished memories of various points in our lives, shared with extended family or the community. And at every turn, we give due respect and thanks to one vital part of each celebration: generous nature that breathes life into every produce that make up each meal. Many people across different cultures and in fact even within the same culture or society have differing allusions or associations to food.
In some populations, commonly in the West, it may extremely be a negative symbol that precedes revulsion or a compulsively positive one as ‘comfort foods’. Thus eating becomes an act of a functional necessity, an interruption of a ‘seeming’ life lived in the fast lane. Being a consumer society that thrives on convenience, they might not have the time or energy to invest in food preparation from scratch like finding pure unadulterated natural produce and savor the scent, color and distinct tang that come with every dish prepared from it.
But however different cultures may view food and eating, it remains apparent that the Western lifestyle brings in a lot of diseases into its population or other societies that choose this way to live. It obviously is not a healthy way to conduct our lives, as was stressed out in various points of the book. It becomes a wise and healthy choice therefore, to eat healthy by patronizing fresh produce from farms as opposed to food products, and savor meals within the context of relations to get the most out of every dish.