With lucky last-minute tickets, I attended an engaging talk by author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) at Vancouver’s spectacular UBC Farm this afternoon. This was his only Canadian stop on a book tour for the paperback edition of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (reviewed here earlier this week) and the location could not have been more appropriate. The afternoon included a quick farm tour after the talk, upon which I’ll touch later. It was cloudy for the talk, quite gladly, then the sun showed up afterward and made the place look like paradise! I enjoyed eating a yummy home-made salad and watching others eat around me. The event sold out all 670 tickets, and each person received a signed copy of the book.
With thousands of choices at the supermarket, diet advice that changes every year, and a regular barrage of the “latest studies” that turn previous ones on their heads, it’s no wonder we’re looking for simple solutions. From fad diets to the latest incarnation of margarine (50% lower in calories!), what to eat and how much is often up to the discretion of our sources — the most prominent of which have other motives besides your health in mind. And even if you think you know what to eat and are feeling pretty healthy, chances are you can still do better. Michael Pollan, recognising this conundrum, offers seven words that will change your life in the most literal sense: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
In the first two of three parts of his fifth book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008), Pollan illustrates in depth the problems with our food (in the broadest sense possible) and how it is we arrived here. The history is fascinating, and it is that which helps the reader understand why and how we got here, who the key players are and, ultimately, how to go about fixing it. As it turns out, the history goes back a long way.
On Saturday, I went to the EPIC expo at Canada Place. The main attraction for me was a talk by Adria Vasil, author of a best-selling book I adore called Ecoholic. In her inspiring presentation, she gave us a history behind the book’s development and noted how the green movement was virtually non-existent when she started her column in 2004. Organizers of EPIC apparently wanted to put on this event back then but there was deemed to be a lack of interest in green issues.
Adria offered some great advice and encouragement for greening one’s lifestyle: choose three things every month and do them. No matter how good you are already, you can do even better. My three things? I decided to no longer buy greenhouse-grown produce, I switched to compostable plastic bags for my garbage and replaced some of my soap with a locally-made, more natural product (and it smells divine, too!) Adria emphasized the importance of individual actions and how even little things add up. Case in point: the government’s new green product claims regulation is consumer complaint-driven, meaning it’s up to us to call in and report on products that (we think) are making false claims. So things are looking up, anyway. Adria is very lovely and was happy to sign my Ecojot notebook (I had not brought my copy of Ecoholic).