FOOD

I recently added to the website CrossFit's declaration of "World Class Fitness in 100 words." Fitness, and by extension, good health (physical and mental), begins with the food we eat. But we also have to consider the term 'food' itself and more generally, a culture's relationship to food.

I just finished reading Michael Pollan's In Defence of Food(2008). Pollan makes 3 simple statements: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants" (1). That's it.

His book is a harsh indictment of both the science of nutrionism as well as the industrialization of food, both of which have contributed to a great paradox. As a nation, Canada has never been more obsessed with the science of food and yet perversely, Canadians have never been as unhealthy and under-nourished as they are now! Pollan argues that nutrionism, which he sees as an ideology, has radically altered the western world's relationship to food, and not for the better. Food is now a list of nutrients, often atomized and isolated from each other, and ripped out of any sort of context. Probably the most familiar example would be the margarine/butter trans fat debate. Nutrionists were also pivotal to the whole low fat, high carb diet. One example of the science of nutrionism in practice, and one that I find exceptionally insulting, is this constant demonization of fat. Go to a grocery store and check out the nutrients of yogurt, for instance. The sugar will be exorbitantly high (26g for a serving!) but it will have the meaningless and vague "health check" because it is low fat!

But what is so refreshing about Pollan's book is that he doesn't simply rely on the science of nutritionism to repudiate nutrionism, he questions North America's relationship to food itself: What we actually mean by food; the value we place on food; and the human animal's unique place in the ecology of food. He also isn't just simply criticizing 'science.' He admits the paradox of using science to critique science.

-Darci