Michael Pollan

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

When I read those words last year, written by Michael Pollan, all of my questions about what to eat were answered. Simple, clear and direct.

As we struggle to eat right—whether it’s for personal health or global sustainability—we are presented with many labels: low-fat, organic, vegan, sustainable, local, whole-grain, grass-fed and more. Many choices-perhaps too many. And what do these terms really mean? A free-range chicken from California is organic, but is it sustainable to have it shipped across the country to me here in Vermont?

In Michael Pollan’s writing, I find direction as an eater—and a gardener. I don’t find rules and standards; I find guidance and points to consider. The choices are myriad, and nothing is black and white. It’s all gray. The only “wrong” is not thinking about what you eat. For instance, I have a goal of eating more local foods. Not only local foods, but more. In the winter, it’s hard to find fresh, local produce—especially in the north. But if you look carefully, it’s there.

Michael Pollan is author of several books, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. To learn more, visit www.michaelpollan.com.

We have the locavore movement to thank for the raised profile of local foods. In my local grocery store, I see dozens of items on the shelves that are drawn from the region: produce, dried beans, meats and cheese. Each is highlighted with a shelf sticker. Still I’m not committing to a locavore pledge of eating products from the area from a 100-mile radius of my home. Coffee, orange juice and wine are pleasures I’m not willing to give up just because they’re not harvested and produced here in Vermont. Plus, I believe there are ways to support sustainable communities in far-off places by making thoughtful choices.

So this year, I encourage all gardeners to grow something. Or grow more. Or get to know someone who does. Make a connection with your food that will ensure greater health, happiness and sustainability. With humble apologies to Michael Pollan, I offer my own version of his succinct advice:
When you eat, eat. Not in the car. Taste your food.

-David Grist, Online Content Coordinator