A single food that helps lower your blood pressure, prevent sudden heart attacks, or combat cancer? Seriously, c’mon. I’ve learned that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I get why the word “superfood” was coined – the non-official and non-scientific definition is that they’re foods with high levels of vitamins and minerals. And this is yet another food trend you won’t see me touting.
The focus on so-called “superfoods” gets us further and further away from the need to simply enjoy a variety of real, whole, traditional foods rather than breaking our food down into the specific nutrients it may or may not contain. We are one of the few societies that obsesses over tracking vitamins, minerals, protein, calories, fat grams and the like. And look where that’s gotten us.
Food, Not Nutrients
We recently watched the new In Defense of Food documentary with our kids. (It’s a fabulous film by the way – I highly recommend it to everyone!). It was a great refresher of everything we learned in the book as well as a good compilation of some of the newer issues that have become more prevalent since it was written.
One of the major points Michael Pollan touches on is this:
Since nutrients, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, it falls to scientists to explain the hidden reality of foods to us …which implies the need for a priesthood. For to enter a world where your dietary salvation depends on unseen nutrients, you need plenty of expert help. – Michael Pollan
Food is not meant to just be a delivery system of specific nutrients to ensure we achieve optimal health. Food is about so much more …enjoyment, community, family, culture, and even expressing yourself. How about this quote for “food” for thought?
No people on earth worry more about the health consequences of their food choices than we Americans do – and no people suffer from as many diet-related health problems. – Michael Pollan
So rather than having an unhealthy obsession with meeting our daily quota of certain vitamins, minerals and protein, let’s instead enjoy (appropriate quantities) of a variety of whole foods – including plenty of vegetables! – and let the rest fall into place. Thankfully the so-called “superfoods” are whole foods, some of which I enjoy on occasion. But I prefer to just refer to them as food, real food that is, and eat them for nothing other than enjoyment and pleasure.
Do you agree or having you gotten on the “superfood” bandwagon?