Friday, February 15, 2008

Getting Creative with Seven Little Words

In January, the New York Times Tara Parker Pope held a little contest on her blog, based on Michael Pollan's seven little words:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

She asked readers "of the Well Blog to submit their own 2-3-2 word sequences sharing advice for the rest of us. Submit as many entries are you want. Here are the rules:

Dispense wisdom. Don't be gross. No profanity."

The winner?

Ate plants. A big heap. Still hungry.

Next week I'll review Pollan's newest book, In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto - in the meantime, you can add your own 2-3-2 creation in the comments here!


  1. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Start Young. Eat Low Carb. Stay Healthy!

  2. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Drink wine. Not too much. Mostly red.

  3. Anonymous11:10 AM

    Michael Pollan. Lost his mind. Don't listen!

    Sorry, I generally adore Michael Pollan, but he lost a fair bit of credibility with me when he went over to the plant-based camp.

  4. Anonymous11:10 AM

    How about this one:

    Lower Carbs. Lose the Fat. Find Health.

  5. Ate carbs. Got too fat. Went Paleo.

  6. Anonymous11:39 AM

    A witty saying proves nothing.

  7. Anonymous2:49 PM

    oh no. carbs make fat. eat less.

  8. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Eat plants, less factory animals, sustainable planet.

    First, consider Pollan’s background as an avid gardener and botany writer. He probably enjoys a lot of delicious fresh food from his garden in the summer.

    Pollan advocates high plant consumption not solely for health reasons although he does seem to accept some amount of the scientific consensus while simultaneously saying that we should ignore it in favor of what our great grandmother would say. I assume the typical great grandmother would probably say “Eat your vegetables!”

    In promoting a plant-based diet including some animal products he is considering the larger political and environmental picture, not solely avoiding or including certain macro-nutrients or obtaining weight-loss goals.

    He is fond of traditionally produced foods and along with noting deplorable conditions of animal factory-farms, humanely, politically, environmentally, and for health reasons, he even associates corn-fed beef in particular as somewhat detrimental to our health providing more indirect carbohydrates in our diet. He certainly isn’t an advocate of consuming cheap yet subsidized carbohydrates in the many forms of processed corn.

    Currently, not everyone has access to traditionally produced animal products and Pollan is attempting to address a general audience. If the animal factory-farm system were dismantled and farm subsidies revoked, the cost of animal products would greatly increase.

    Most people would remark that they are not fans of animal factory-farming, but it exists because of our high consumption and there is little evidence that an entire conversion to pastoral farming techniques will be able to fulfill our low cost, high demand for animal protein.

  9. Oh noes! I ate protein. Kidney asploded!

  10. Drink Wine. Eat Real Food. Exercise often.

  11. ate fat
    much good meat
    truly satisfied

  12. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly fat.

  13. Anonymous2:33 PM

    Off couch. Thrice a week. One hour.


  14. Anonymous3:31 PM

    Well, see, the problem is, what constitutes a plant-based diet?

    By volume, I am sure I eat more plant materials than animal products. By number of calories, it is clearly animal products. By weight, it's possibly a wash.

    Also, all plants are not created equal. Of the 1,200 or so calories in a typical fast-food meal with regular (not diet) soda, only around 200 or 250 are from animals. The rest are plant-products.

    There's a lot of talk about factory farming of animals and the environmental degradation and animal suffering it causes. But we seldom hear about the factory farming of plants and the environmental degradation and animal suffering that causes. We destroy entire habitats to plant corn and soybeans. Mechanical plowing and harvesting kills not only worms and insects, but also small mammals such as field mice and voles.

    Factory farming sucks, regardless of what it is that is being farmed. Yet if we stopped factory farming of plants, we'd also have massive food shortages and huge price increases. It seems to me that a big part of the problem is that there are just too many humans, and our numbers are ever-increasing.

    Finally, what are the economic and social costs of having 10 billion unhealthy people on the planet, versus smaller numbers of healthy ones? This is not entirely a rhetorical question - I'm mindful of the fact that our own nation is going to be hurting as the giant baby boom generation retires and the much smaller Generation X (my generation) attempts to keep the economy afloat. There's part of me that wishes there were more Gen X'ers, not less. And at the same time, I don't see how our planet can sustain further population increases ...

  15. Madison:

    That hypothetical grandmother also said eat your meat too. She also said drink up your glass of whole milk, not this useless skim milk. Vegetarianism = early death.

  16. Anonymous3:35 PM

    P.S. Re-reading the excerpt from Pollan's book in the NYT, I have an idea. I think it would be really interesting to get Gary Taubes in a room with Michael Pollan.

  17. Plant grain. Above all else. Destroy planet.


    PS Migaineur, you've read Daniel Quinn?

  18. Avoid grains. Avoid sugar. Buy smaller clothes.

  19. Anonymous10:40 AM

    No, Peter, never even heard of him. I looked at the website you provided, but other than the fact that Quinn seems to be something of a contrarian, I don't see the connection. Maybe I just didn't go to the right page?

  20. Anonymous10:45 AM

    Oh, wait, I found some stuff relevant to the discussion. Very thought provoking. Thanks, Peter!

  21. It's that old Two Rat Experiment. Eating lower down the food chain, as suggested by the vegetarian lobby, will simply increase the production of humans. Perhaps we need PCOS to save the planet????? THAT'S the reasoning behind the food pyramid! A subtle attempt to save the world. Too subtle for me.


  22. Anonymous10:42 PM

    Peter, I'm sure you've seen this:

  23. Hee, You have Ancel Keys starring as Superman in an attempt to save the planet from overpopulation! Who would have believed it? So subtle, so modest....


  24. Anonymous5:48 PM

    I have to wonder how much we could reduce our dependency on farming if only we would take some responsibility for growing some food for ourselves. All these useless landscaping plants all over peoples yards....think herbs and leaf lettuce for sidewalk borders, tomatoes and zuchinni growing on trellises and blueberry hedges. With a little creativity and a good freezer, we could supply a decent percentage of our own fresh foods. Quit wasting your yards! Gardening is fun and uniquely satisfying. Good exercise too.