Welcome to the ACF We Are Chefs Book Club! Our May 2019 book is “The Way We Eat Now: How the Food Revolution Has Transformed Our Lives, Our Bodies, and Our World” (Basic Books, 2019). If it sounds like something you’d be interested in reading, we encourage you to pick up a copy at your local library and read along with us. Update us on your progress with the hashtag #ACFbookclub on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll hold a Facebook discussion at the end of the month.
Recently, runners in the London Marathon quenched their thirst by downing water from biodegradable bubbles made of seaweed. Supposedly healthy bottled iced tea brands are enhanced with sugars labeled as exotic little known flavors, while sports energy bars are often discreetly laden with calorie-rich fats.
To say the least, our sense of what constitutes a healthy diet often seems confused and contradictory these days.
But take heart. Bee Wilson’s new book, “The Way We Eat Now,” thoughtfully explains how our nation, so rich in food, came to make such poor food choices.
Poor dietary decisions aren’t confined to just the United States. In 2015 about 7 million people worldwide died from tobacco smoke. Another 3.3 million succumbed to causes related to alcohol.
But a staggering 12 million people globally died from diseases attributed to the dietary impact of poor meals, excessive salt and sugar, and nutrition-poor processed and manufactured foods.
Wilson argues that “we are the first generation to be hunted by what we eat.” Few people grow the food they eat anymore. Instead, we purchase it signed, sealed and often delivered. For many decades, large food manufacturers have sought to lure consumers to choose their products by using ever-increasing levels of saltiness and sweetness.
And if the consumer, as a result, gained unhealthy weight? Well, that must be the fault of the weak-willed individual, not the companies who have for generations stocked the neighborhood grocery shelves with largely unhealthy processed foods. Body guilt and the projection of impossible “ideal body” stereotypes have strengthened the illusion that obesity results from poor self-control and not the heavily commercialized food we eat.
“The Way We Eat Now,” out this month, provides readers with a wealth of documentation about the food we buy and why.
Today’s chefs need to seriously consider the tectonic shift in the culinary scene as the priorities of diners moves from a farm-to-table focus to questioning the values of processors and packagers. Aided by governmental support, chefs in countries as diverse as Chile, South Korea and Denmark are now actively seeking ways to achieve a better, healthier national diet. When led by such dedicated chefs, dietary changes are more than possible as the world turns its focus to smaller plates, fresh ingredients, fewer cans and packages, less sugar and salt, and a longer, healthier, happier life.
And that’s the way we should eat now!