I finshed Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food on the plane yesterday. I’ll certainly be treating it more fully here, but one thing that I thought about today while shopping at Whole Foods was his “5 ingredients” test. His high-level advice is the subtitle of his book is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
As you might imagine, he does elaborate on these points. The 5 ingredients test is something he proposes (along with the “great grandmother test”) to distinguish between real food and “foodlike substances”. If something has more than 5 ingredients, and/or ingredients you can’t pronounce, Pollan argues it is not worthy of the name food. This concept was food for thought, so to speak, perusing the aisles today. Even at Whole Foods, not too much food that comes with ingredients on it comes in under 5 ingredients. But the whole wheat linguine that I made for support tonight passed the test with 4 ingredients to spare…just wheat! (though I suspect water must have been involved too).
Of course, one point of the 5 ingredients rule is that limiting processed foods is the way to go. The local lettuce and red pepper I bought for a salad passed the test, probably none of the other packaged items I bought though. We probably eat much healthier than the average American, but In Defense of Food reminds me that we can still do a lot more to eat healthier and sustainably. Stay tuned for more on this topic!