Essay healthy food eating

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To enter a world in which you dine on unseen nutrients, you need lots of expert help. But expert help to do what, exactly? This brings us to another unexamined assumption: that the whole point of eating is to maintain and promote bodily health. Hippocratess famous injunction to let food be thy medicine is ritually invoked to support this notion. Ill leave the premise alone for now, except to point out that it is not shared by all cultures and that the experience of these other cultures suggests that, paradoxically, viewing food as being about things other than bodily health — like pleasure, say,. This is what we usually have in mind when we speak of the French paradox — the fact that a population that eats all sorts of unhealthful nutrients is in many ways healthier than we Americans are. So there is at least a question as to whether nutritionism is actually any good for you.

The Age of Nutritionism had arrived. The rise of nutritionism, the first thing to understand about nutritionism — i first encountered the term in the work of an Australian sociologist of science named gyorgy Scrinis — is that it taks is not quite the same as nutrition. As the ism suggests, it is not a scientific subject but an ideology. Ideologies are ways of organizing large swaths of life and experience under a set of shared but unexamined assumptions. This quality makes an ideology particularly hard to see, at least while its exerting its hold on your culture. A reigning ideology is a little like the weather, good all pervasive and virtually inescapable. Still, we can try. In the case of nutritionism, the widely shared but unexamined assumption is that the key to understanding food is indeed the nutrient. From this basic premise flow several others. Since nutrients, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, it falls to the scientists (and to the journalists through whom the scientists speak) to explain the hidden reality of foods.

essay healthy food eating

Unhappy meals - michael Pollan - the new York times

First, the stark message to eat less of a particular food has been deep-sixed; dont look for it ever again in any official. Second, notice how distinctions between entities as different as fish and beef and chicken have collapsed; those three venerable foods, each representing an entirely different taxonomic class, are now lumped together as delivery systems for a single nutrient. Notice too how the new language exonerates the foods themselves; now the culprit is an obscure, invisible, tasteless — and politically unconnected — substance that may or may not lurk in them called saturated fat. The linguistic capitulation did nothing to rescue mcgovern from his blunder; the very next election, in 1980, the beef lobby helped rusticate the three-term senator, sending thesis an unmistakable warning to anyone who would challenge the American diet, and in particular the big chunk of animal. Henceforth, government dietary guidelines would shun plain talk about whole foods, each of which has its trade association on Capitol Hill, and would instead arrive clothed in scientific euphemism and speaking of nutrients, entities that few Americans really understood but that lack powerful lobbies. This was precisely the tack taken by the national Academy of Sciences when it issued its landmark report on diet and cancer in 1982. Organized nutrient by nutrient in a way guaranteed to offend no food group, it codified the official new dietary language. Industry and media followed suit, and terms like polyunsaturated, cholesterol, monounsaturated, carbohydrate, fiber, polyphenols, amino acids and carotenes soon colonized much of the cultural space previously occupied by the tangible substance formerly known as food.

essay healthy food eating

Scary foods: Aaron

The committee learned that while rates of coronary heart disease had soared in America since world War ii, other cultures that consumed traditional diets based largely on plants had strikingly low rates of chronic disease. Epidemiologists also had observed that in America during the war years, when meat and dairy products were strictly rationed, the rate of heart disease temporarily plummeted. Naïvely putting two and two together, the committee drafted a straightforward set of dietary guidelines calling on Americans to cut down on red meat and dairy products. Within weeks a firestorm, emanating from the red-meat and dairy industries, engulfed the committee, and Senator Mcgovern (who had a great many cattle ranchers among his south dakota constituents) was forced to beat a retreat. The committees recommendations were hastily rewritten. Plain talk about food — the committee had advised Americans to actually reduce consumption of meat — was replaced by artful compromise: Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated-fat intake. A subtle change in emphasis, you might say, but a world of difference just the same.

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essay healthy food eating

Free healthy lifestyle Essays and Papers

From foods to nutrients, it was in the 1980s that food began disappearing from the American supermarket, gradually to be replaced by nutrients, which are not the same thing. Where once the familiar names of recognizable comestibles — things like eggs or breakfast cereal or cookies — claimed pride of place on the brightly colored packages crowding the aisles, now new terms like fiber and and saturated fat rose to large-type prominence. More important than mere foods, the presence or absence of these invisible substances was now generally believed to confer health benefits on their eaters. Foods by comparison were coarse, old-fashioned and decidedly unscientific things — who could say what was in them, really? But nutrients — those chemical compounds and minerals in foods that nutritionists have deemed important to health — gleamed with the promise of scientific certainty; eat more of the right ones, fewer of the wrong, and you would live longer and avoid chronic diseases. Nutrients themselves had been around, as a concept, since the early 19th century, when the English doctor and chemist William Prout identified what came to be called the macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates. It was thought that that was pretty much all there was going on in food, until doctors noticed that an adequate supply of the big three did not necessarily keep people nourished.

At the end of the 19th century, british doctors were puzzled by the fact that Chinese write laborers in the malay states were dying of a disease called beriberi, which didnt seem to afflict Tamils or native malays. The mystery was solved when someone pointed out that the Chinese ate polished, or white, rice, while the others ate rice that hadnt been mechanically milled. A few years later, casimir Funk, a polish chemist, discovered the essential nutrient in rice husks that protected against beriberi and called it a vitamine, the first micronutrient. Brought a kind of glamour to the science of nutrition, and though certain sectors of the population began to eat by its expert lights, it really wasnt until late in the 20th century that nutrients managed to push food aside in the popular imagination. No single event marked the shift from eating food to eating nutrients, though in retrospect a little-noticed political dust-up in Washington in 1977 seems to have helped propel American food culture down this dimly lighted path. Responding to an alarming increase in chronic diseases linked to diet — including heart disease, cancer and — a senate select Committee on Nutrition, headed by george Mcgovern, held hearings on the problem and prepared what by all rights should have been an uncontroversial document.

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essay healthy food eating

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