Food or Foe

Is all food created equal?  Most people seem to think so.  However, the question lies not in the food that is grown, cultivated, and picked, but rather in the “food” that is created in a laboratory.  Real food isn’t created by human hands; real food is grown from a seed in the earth or comes from animals.  The question becomes what item is a food and what item is a foe?

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. ” Michael Pollan

When time is spent considering what types of ingredients are currently placed inside of foods found on store shelves, one quickly begins to understand that many of the items filling the grocery stores are not actually food.  How does the body respond to laboratory creations?  Most large companies dispensing this food, do not have the answer to that question.  Michael Pollan, the author of Food Rules, decided that, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”  Simple logic, but then why is it so hard to filter through the shelves at the grocery store to find items that are not processed through a plant?

Rather than searching through cans, boxes, and bags of processed foods in order to find the few “healthy” and acceptable options that are the least processed, consider finding ways of preparing foods using ingredients that are the least processed and most identifiable as real food sources.  The Info Graphic below will show the ingredients that did not exist 200 years ago for human consumption.

Foods that Did Not Exist 200 Years Ago

Quick Rules to Finding Food not Foe

1.  Find foods that are unproccessed and unrefined.  These food items simply are ground, mixed, or crushed, rather than being bleached, chemically enhanced, or altered.

Food Examples: Unbleached Flour, Quinoa Grain, Sucanat Sugar, Maple Syrup

Foe Examples: High Fructose Corn Syrup, White Sugar, Bleached and Bromated Flours

2.  Find foods that are produced through natural aging and natural fermentation.  Foods that are aged over time and are fermented to produce an end product are timeless.  Foods that are rushed through the process often have chemical preservatives to keep them from spoiling, while the natural methods will often preserve the food without the use of chemical preservatives.

Food Examples: Naturally Aged Salami, Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Foe Examples: Sandwich Meat, Spam, Velveeta

3. Find foods that contain ingredients that you can pronounce (or at least attempt to pronounce like another language) rather than foods with long winded chemical names.

Food Examples: Kefir Water, Homemade Cookies Made with Sucanat

Foe Examples: Soda, Packaged Cookies

4. Find foods that are grown conventionally and are not genetically modified.  Again, if a laboratory was involved, the food is not real.

Food Examples: Organic Corn, Organic Green Beans

Foe Examples: GMO Corn, GMO Soy

5. Find foods that are traditional rather than foods that have been recently introduced for human consumption.  Red 40 is made from petroleum. 1  Monosodium Glutamate was created in a laboratory in 1908.2  Remember traditional foods are foods that people would have identified as food 200 years ago.

Food Examples: Beet Juice Powder, Sea Salt

Foe Examples: Red Dye 40, Monosodium Glutamate

6. Find foods that are not advertising their benefits.  Does anyone need to be convinced that a carrot is healthy and has good vitamins?  No.  Why should anyone need convincing that a sugary cereal with a cartoon character on the front is healthy?  Because most people innately know that the “food” inside that cereal box is not real food.  Don’t be convinced easily of the advertised benefits.

Food Examples: Carrot, Eggs

Foe Examples: Fortified Milk, Cereal with Vitamins

7. Find foods that are made in traditional manners.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made through a very traditional process involving pressing the olives to release their oils.  Partially Hydrogenated Oils are produced through high heat and chemical processes that not only destroy the benefits of the oils, but also chemically change the nature of the oil.  Traditional methods of producing foods are the best.

Food Examples: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Raw Unrefined Coconut Oil

Foe Examples: Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Vegetable Oil

1. Fulton, April. “FDA Probes Link Between Food Dyes, Kids’ Behavior.” NPR. NPR, 30 Mar. 2011. Web. 27 May 2013. <>.

2. Lindemann, Bernd, Yoko Ogiwara, and Yuzo Ninomiya. “Chemical Senses.” Chemical Senses 27.9 (2002): 843-44. The Discovery of Umami. Oxford University Press. Web. 27 May 2013. <>.