Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Benefits of a Whole Foods Diet

I hate sales pitches.  This probably shouldn't surprise you, considering I'm running a blog all about non-consumerism, but I'm serious:  I really hate sales pitches.  My biggest complaint with them is that they try to masquerade as information, but all they are is hype and rhetoric.  You think you're reading something valuable, but no -- you're just being sold something.

What I really do like, though, are well-researched arguments, essays, research papers, etc.  Things with independent research that I can fact-check and review and draw my own conclusions from.  

So I'm not going to try to sell you on whole foods just because I say they're great.  I'm going to explain to you -- like a persuasive essay -- why I choose to eat whole foods.  I'll even cite my sources.  And at the end of it, you can make your own choice, and I won't think any less of you no matter what you decide.

Benefits of a Whole Foods Diet

First, let me define my terms.  For benefits of this discussion, a whole foods diet refers to foods that contain one ingredient -- whatever they are.  So fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, meat, grains, legumes.

Here's why eating a diet made up entirely of those foods is good:
  • It's cheaper.  Intuitively, this makes sense, but people disbelieve it.  Probably because whole foods have to be eaten and consumed as part of recipes, which requires cooking, which is scary to some people.  And because buying every ingredient of a recipe is probably more expensive than buying a single pre-packaged product, but only if you're not looking at serving sizes.  Per unit, the whole foods will always win out.  Here's a very simple example you can research for yourself: Look at the price of a tub of oatmeal vs a box of single-serving instant oatmeal packets. 
  • It's healthier.  Here's a dirty little secret of the food industry.  Fresh foods usually taste pretty good all on their own, as a benefit of being fresh.  When you're making something with an eye toward profit margins, you can't use the freshest ingredients.  Instead, you make your food out of crappy ingredients, then pump it full of salt, sugar, and fat (the three things that always taste delicious) in order to make it taste better.  Fast food is especially terrible about this.  Which is why when I deep-fry potatoes at home, the resulting fries have 220 calories, but a similar number of McDonald's fries have 380 calories. And it's not just about calories.  Fresh foods have more nutrients intact thanks to being, well, fresh.  And if you're cooking your own food, you control exactly what goes into it.  
  • It's not tied up in quite a many commercial interests. Of course, whole foods have their political ties but you have more flexibility by buying local or growing your own or whatever.  Incidentally, commercial interests and political power is one reason that high fructose corn syrup is in basically everything that comes in a package. 
  • It generates less waste.  For example, a box of cereal includes a cardboard box and a plastic bag for freshness.  If you buy cereal in a bag, you reduce the waste a little, but cause a whole new set of problems with your non-recyclable bag.  And that's not including the amount of energy expended by the factor that makes both the packaging and the cereal itself, and the fossil fuels used up by the truck hauling it to the store.  If you buy bulk grains in a re-usable container, you minimize this waste.  
So there you go.  It's cheaper, healthier, non-commercial and eco-friendly.  There's no bad here.  Have I convinced you yet? 

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