Author and food activist Nina Planck was raised on a family farm in Virginia, where she learned to appreciate "real," traditional foods. She worked as a reporter for TIME Magazine and wrote speeches for the U.S. ambassador to London before opening the first farmers’ markets in London. Today her company, London Farmers’ Markets, runs fourteen markets. She is the author of two books: "Real Food: What to Eat and Why," and "Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby's First Foods."
Planck is a Big Think Delphi Fellow.
Question: What food issues are you most concerned about right now?
I’m very concerned about the traditional foods versus imitation foods. I still find people asking me about soy
butter that doesn’t contain trans-fats because now they know trans-fats
bad. They’re still asking me about
substitute foods and imitations and engineered foods and foods with
or removed that and what I want them to understand is that the whole
traditional foods are best. Even
if they can’t afford the best quality version of beef or eggs or milk
ought to be consuming beef or eggs or milk instead of ersatz foods.
concerned about a plant based diet for pregnant mothers and for young
children. There is a trend in many
urban areas for young children to be vegetarians and I gather from
from journalists that it’s the children who are requesting to be
and this is presented as charming.
Once Johnny finds out that the chicken breast comes from a
can’t bear to eat his friend the chicken.
Well our son Julian who is three helps me take apart chickens
regularly. He completely understands that his
friends the farm animals are also the foods we eat. We
are omnivores and nature created us as omnivores. I
think there are a lot of things five
year-olds might want. They might
want junk. They might want junk
television. They might want to be
vegetarians. But it’s not a good time
for a person to be a vegetarian.
If, in adulthood, you’ve been well fed in your mother’s womb and
breast and in your growing years you want to experiment with a high
vegetarian diet – or even a very carefully planned vegan diet – I think
acceptable, but I don’t think it’s right for children to be raised as
vegetarians even if they ask.
The good news also is that there are now ethically sound and ecologically sound ways to be an omnivore, and so I would urge you, if you are conscientious about these matters, to find the farmers who care for animals and care for plants and care for the environment and shop from them.