Says Pollan, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.
Along the way in this lengthy article, Pollan takes some shots at "nutritionism", a new kind of dietary ideology that has us more focused on what’s in our food than we are focused on simply eating the right foods themselves.
If we just focused on the broad overview of eating a fundamentally healthy diet, the rest would largely take care of itself and we wouldn’t have to worry about omega oils, and phtyochemicals, and flavonoids, and folate etc. etc. etc. They’d just be there because we were eating the way nature intended.
"Once, food was all you could eat", says Pollan, "but today there are lots of novel products of food science that often come in packages festooned with health claims."
This brings him to a related rule of thumb:
"If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat."
I especially like the way he links eating with sustainability.
"Biodiversity in the diet means less monoculture in the fields."
What does that have to do with your health? Everything.
The vast monocultures that now feed us require tremendous amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to keep from collapsing.
Diversifying those fields will mean fewer chemicals, healthier soils, healthier plants and animals and, in turn, healthier people.
It’s all connected, which is another way of saying that your health isn’t bordered by your body and that what’s good for the soil is probably good for you, too.