Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve been doing a lot of tinkering with my diet. I cut out sugar in November 2014, and after reading Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, I decided to cut back on my carbohydrates. The result has been a loss of weight and reduction in my blood sugar, which I documented in my “Year Without Sugar” post.
The results I achieved encouraged me to share my experience with a good friend of mine. After he started seeing similar results, he told me that I needed to watch the Michael Pollan documentary, Cooked, on Netflix.
The documentary explores the influence that food has on our lives, but more importantly, how food makes it way from the fields to our tables. It’s split up into four 1-hour segments that explore each of the key elements of cooking – Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Personally, I found Air and Water to be may favorites, with Earth and Fire close behind.
With the industrialization of our food into processed, pre-packaged meals, it was fascinating to see some of the traditional methods of how food was, and in some places is still made. It was an eye opening look into how the optimization of our food for profit has turned many of the foods we eat into unhealthy alternatives. For example, Pollan documents how over the last year hundred years bread has turned from a food that required three ingredients, flour, water and salt, into one that now contains 31 ingredients on average. Some ingredients are added in the name of nutrition, but many are added to either optimize production or extend the shelf life. Could these ingredients be the cause of some of our current health problems? It’s hard to know for sure, but it is a little peculiar that modern day diseases such as celiac and type 2 diabetes weren’t nearly as prevalent during our grandparents’ time.
My biggest takeaway from the documentary is that the optimization of our food for profit is not a good thing. I understand that we need to optimize production to feed the ever increasing number of humans on the planet, but at what expense does the optimization of production come? Industrializing and optimizing inanimate objects like cars, clothing, electronic goods, and furniture I can understand. We use those objects, we don’t eat them to nourish us and keep us healthy. At some point, the food industry needs to realize that they are not only responsible for the production of food but also its quality. Otherwise, I expect that we will see an increasing level of health issues related to our diets that requires more health care to treat and resolve, which eventually becomes a burden on our society.
Bottom line, I’d highly encourage you to take the four hours to watch Cooked. It’s split up nicely that you can watch it over a few nights. You’ll find it both instructional and entertaining, and it may even make you want to spend a little more time in the kitchen cooking you’re own food as opposed to buying it pre-processed and packaged from your local grocery store. And the end of it all, you may find yourself making better food choices, eating better, and feeling better about yourself and you health.