Simple tips for simply nutritious food.
Transparency is good. Information is handy. We have a right to know what we’re eating, and—thanks to laws requiring manufacturers to provide nutritional information—every product comes with a label summing up its ingredients and stating the percentages of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances, or RDAs.
The system seems beneficial, but food companies can get pretty creative with the facts. For example, a bottle of Coke bears the news that an eight-ounce glass contains 29 percent of the RDA for sugar. The label on some cookies claims the product “can contribute to a healthy lifestyle.” The presentation of this “information” gives the impression that it’s based on thorough science. But out of context, it’s misleading. The sugar in soda contains no nutrients and lots of empty calories. The cookies are only healthy if you eat them instead of a less healthy type.
If you want good, healthy food, follow the advice of Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: Avoid products that make health claims. Foods that don’t carry a nutrition label are generally recommended. If you do buy something with a label, avoid products containing more than five ingredients, especially if you can’t pronounce them.
Eat apples, apricots, cabbage, walnuts, raisins, rice, radishes and spinach. Or a delicious salad like this one: Mix boiled potatoes with blanched green beans, lettuce, black olives and hard-boiled eggs. Slice and dice the ingredients as coarsely or finely as you want. Top with a garlicky dressing and if you like anchovies, mix in a few.
It’s no problem to juggle ingredients, but not information.