A few months back, Michael Pollan commented in a New York Times book review that the “food movement” might be the thing that finally brings together all the pieces. He didn’t say it quite like that – he meant issues of poverty/hunger, agricultural policy, global warming, local economy – but the more I track the various tangents of the food movement, the more I see its wisdom appearing in unexpected places, creating a bright web with my plate at it’s center.
I recently started working in the fundraising department at the American Institute for Cancer Research. I took the job over another that would have landed me more squarely in food advocacy, but for many reasons, this was the better job choice for the time. I’ve been thrilled to discover that the majority of the research funded by AICR is directly related to nutrition, exercise and weight. 90% of their educational materials focus on how to eat to prevent cancers – and 30-40% of the cancer typical to Americans today is preventable with a healthy diet and exercise sufficient to maintain a healthy weight. I’m (happily) bombarded with pictures of apples and spinach every single day.
How can not continue to be inspired in my own crusade to eating healthier foods when surrounded by such motivation?
Last week Svelte Gourmand published a post on foods that fight inflammation. If you have not read anything about recent research on the mechanisms of inflammation, here’s a good place to start. Long story short, research is bearing out the fact that many of the substances common to our diets actually cause our body to rush to its own defense – our bodies are living in a constant state of fighting off the “food” we’re filling it with. Just one outcome of this “chronic inflammation” is those 30-40% percent of cancers I mentioned above.
Both in the Svelte Gourmand article and in the mountains of AICR literature, a handful of simple diet changes are prescribed as literally life-changing. Eating smaller, whole-food rich meals and foods high in antioxidants and omega-3s. Heads up: your local farmer’s market is the surest source of these items (and mostly likely in organic form, meaning they’re free from the additional chemical dangers of pesticides) from kale and fresh greens to grass-fed beef, pastured chicken eggs and seasonal fruits. Reducing or eliminating simple carbohydrates and omega-6 sources (like white sugar, white flour, white rice and high fructose corn syrup) further aid your body in controlling inflammatory responses. And here’s reason to celebrate: red wine, dark chocolate and beer all seem to have potent anti-inflammatory capacity.
The things that can literally save my body are the same things that can help to save our planet and our food systems. These foods fight obesity as well as many other epidemics of our modern lifestyle. It all fits together. It’s all about our food.