Thursday, February 22, 2007

The 5 Biggest Food Myths

I read an interesting article in Forbes recently, talking to author Barry Glassner, whose recent book, The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong, is next up on my To-Read pile. Basically, Glassner thinks we've all gone overboard in thinking about food, and assigning it a greater role in our overall health and welfare than it deserves. In the process, he says, we've lost the "pleasure factor" in eating, replacing it with guilt or duty.

More on that when I actually read the book!

What the Forbes article talks about is what they call Five Big Food Myths. And what are they?

1) "Fresh is Best." We tend to think canned or frozen food is inferior to fresh food, and that supermarket fresh food is inferior to farmer's market fresh food. Actually, Glassner points out, flash-frozen produce retains more nutrients than "fresh" produce that is trucked or shipped from parts unknown, unloaded, stocked and then sold. By the time it reaches your plate, many of its healthy properties have been lost or weakened.

2) "Vitamin-Enhanced Foods Are Better." It's the big thing now, the so-called "functional foods." We think that "blurring the line between food and vitamins or medications" means we're eating healthier. Just watch to see how many foods are released in coming months with Omega-3s. But Glassner says the vitamins are altered in the process of adding them to foods in which they don't normally occur--like Omega-3 Pasta--and we don't really know if they're effective, or even harmful.

3) "A Meal is Worthy for What It Lacks." By focusing on what our meal doesn't contain--such as fat, salt, or carbs--we lose sight of the pleasure a great meal can bring us, Glassner says.

4) "Natural Means Less Processed." There's no rules concerning the word "natural," Glassner says (unlike "organic," which does have some legal restrictions)-- "The only thing the terrm natural seems to consistently mean is a higher price," says Forbes.

5) "Some Foods Are Inherently Bad for You." Categorizing a food as "inherently bad" is unnecessary, Glassner says. Too much of anything--sugar, fat, whatever--is bad.But the food itself isn't. "Food like potato chips, which most of us enjoy, can still have a place in our diet," Glassner says.

Yeah, but what if you can't eat just one?

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