Ersatz Foods, Ersatz Health
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\r\n you most\r\nconcerned about right now?\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
Nina Planck: \r\nWell,\r\nI’m very concerned about the traditional foods versus imitation foods. I still find people asking me about soy\r\nbutter that doesn’t contain trans-fats because now they know trans-fats \r\nare\r\nbad. They’re still asking me about\r\nsubstitute foods and imitations and engineered foods and foods with \r\nadded this\r\nor removed that and what I want them to understand is that the whole\r\ntraditional foods are best. Even\r\nif they can’t afford the best quality version of beef or eggs or milk \r\nthey\r\nought to be consuming beef or eggs or milk instead of ersatz foods.
And\r\n I’m also\r\nconcerned about a plant based diet for pregnant mothers and for young\r\nchildren. There is a trend in many\r\nurban areas for young children to be vegetarians and I gather from \r\nparents and\r\nfrom journalists that it’s the children who are requesting to be \r\nvegetarians\r\nand this is presented as charming. \r\nOnce Johnny finds out that the chicken breast comes from a \r\nchicken he\r\ncan’t bear to eat his friend the chicken. \r\nWell our son Julian who is three helps me take apart chickens \r\nregularly. He completely understands that his\r\nfriends the farm animals are also the foods we eat. We\r\n are omnivores and nature created us as omnivores. I\r\n think there are a lot of things five\r\nyear-olds might want. They might\r\nwant junk. They might want junk\r\ntelevision. They might want to be\r\nvegetarians. But it’s not a good time\r\nfor a person to be a vegetarian. \r\nIf, in adulthood, you’ve been well fed in your mother’s womb and \r\nat her\r\nbreast and in your growing years you want to experiment with a high \r\nquality\r\nvegetarian diet – or even a very carefully planned vegan diet – I think \r\nthat is\r\nacceptable, but I don’t think it’s right for children to be raised as\r\nvegetarians even if they ask.
The\r\ngood\r\n news also is that there are now ethically sound and ecologically sound\r\nways to be an omnivore, and so I would urge you, if you are \r\nconscientious about\r\nthese matters, to find the farmers who care for animals and care for \r\nplants and\r\ncare for the environment and shop from them.
Substitute foods and engineered imitations are never as good as "real foods."
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