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7 Rules for Eating

Choose Food Over Food-Like Substances, Food Writer Michael Pollan Tells CDC

Eat Foods, Not Nutrients continued...

Pollan remembers that when fats were declared to be evil, his mother switched the family to stick margarine. His grandmother predicted that some day stick margarine would be the evil food. Today, we know that margarine was made with trans fats.

The trouble with the whole notion of "evil' and "blessed" ingredients is that they help the food industry sell us processed foods that are free of the evil thing or full of the blessed one. We buy them, not realizing they may contain many other ingredients that aren't good for us.

Collins agrees with Pollan's central theme that whole foods are vastly better for us than are processed foods. But our food system makes it hard for many Americans to get whole foods.

"If our food system made more whole foods at lower cost and made them more available, that would help with our public health," Collins says. "We need full-service groceries in urban centers, where people can get to them. Unfortunately, urban centers are getting filled with fast food stores and liquor stores. Pollan's rules are good, and it is one thing to eat by his rules, but making our environment such that people can live by the rules is not always easy."

Will the CDC be pushing for these kinds of changes? Yes, suggested Anne Haddix, chief policy officer at the CDC's Office of Strategy and Innovation, during the panel discussion following Pollan's remarks to the CDC.

"How we go forward on this will take some very different types of thinking than we have done in the past," Haddix said. "We have an opening we have not had for years. ... Of the federal agencies trying to address food issues, CDC is uniquely positioned. We have to step out as leaders. ... Now is the time to ramp up our efforts and reach out to people who make us uncomfortable and go for it."

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