Michael Pollan Teaches Jon Stewart Some Food Rules

Michael Pollan’s new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, is a breeze to read. The author himself says it will take you about an hour to, ahem, digest his 64 practical, even folksy rules – gleaned from doctors, scientists, chefs and readers – to eat better. Here are a few samples:

#11 – Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

#19 – If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.

#36 – Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.

#39 – Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. [What he means is, if you only eat French fries or doughnuts or baklava on those rare occasions when you have the time to make them yourself – and then clean up afterwards – you’ll not likely eat enough to significantly harm your health.

This past week, as part of his book promotion tour, Michael Pollan spent time talking to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show’s first program of the new year. It didn’t take long for the interview to shift out of book-promotion mode and into a discussion about the link between healthcare reform and food. Here are some of Pollan’s words:

“Cheap food has a very high cost in terms of health, in terms of the environment... and that cost is being paid by other people – by the public health system. And that's a part of the problem – the disconnect between what you pay for a cheap fast-food meal and the ultimate price of eating that way…

“But I think what's about to happen, if we get this healthcare bill passed, and there's some kind of minimal rules – no more pre-existing conditions, they can't throw you off the plan, they have to take you – suddenly the health insurers will have an interest in your health that they don't have now…

“Right now the food industry creates patients for the healthcare industry and they have a very sympathetic relationship. But that might change. And if that changes, I think you will see this very powerful industry [the health insurers] getting on board of this movement, this growing national movement…

“It's very interesting, we resent the government saying maybe don't have 240 pounds of sugar in one year, which is what we're eating... but we don't resent it when your doctor says you're on Lipitor for the rest of your life, or stents, now. We say, sure we'll do that. We'll do whatever you tell us to do.”

You can watch the whole interview here. (I apologize for the ad before the clip – I’m afraid it’s the price we pay to use it. Hopefully it won't be for some fast-food restaurant!)

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