Cooked by Michael Pollan is a book on history and curiosity of food.
- It’s not true that raw is healthier
- The more time we spend cooking the healthier we are (correlation)
- White flour is not good for you
Raw Isn’t Healthier
Michael Pollen address a somewhat popular belief these days that “raw is better”.
Not so, he says: eating hard to digest food is not easy on the body.
Cooking instead makes the food more nutritious and easier to digest. And we can absorb more of the nutrients in the food itself by cooking it.
More Ready-Made Food Made Us Unhealthy
Since world war II there has been an explosion in ready-made meals. They seemed like cheaper, more convenient and more modern ways of eating.
However, processed food is much unhealthier than the average home-cooked meal. Processed food contains much more sugar, fat and salt.
And because it’s so easy and engineered to taste good, we end eating far more than we actually need (also read Salt Sugar Fat).
Data support this theory. There is indeed a connection between the time spent in the kitchen and obesity. In 2003 a study found that the more time people spend preparing their own food, the less obese they were. The connection was even stronger than income.
The sandwich is one of the most popular ready “on the go” meal of modernity.
You’re on the run? Just grab a sandwich and eat it on the way.
And what’s most of that sandwich made of? White flour.
Wheat by itself isn’t problematic, says Michael Pollan, but white flour is.
Eating white flour is not much different than eating pure sugar.
White Bread History
Roller mills in the nineteenth century could for the first time mechanically separate the germ and bran from a wheat seed, leaving just the starch.
That makes the bread so white, but also less nutritious: most of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are removed with the germ and bran.
Eventually baking companies started adding the bran back, creating “whole grain” loaves. But many add additives and sugar to make it taste as sweet as white bread, so you have to watch out if you want to eat healthy bread.
Real Life Applications
Watch Out For Whole Grain
Some producers do whole grains but add sugar and additives to make it taste like white bread. Watch out the labels.
Too Much History, Too Little Info
This con is just about me. I’m past my younger years reading book just to gather random knowledge and historical facts.
I’m looking for applicable advise these days.
That being said, Cooked is a pleasurable read and has some interesting information while also offering some good philosophical food for thoughts (pun intended).
Whole Bread Warning
I particularly appreciated the warning on whole wheat bread as not being created all equal. And some being as bad as white bread because of additives and sugar.
I’ll be keeping an eye on that.
I got hold of Cooked in my research on nutrition. I was expecting to get a book on nutrition science, but it was a bit too much about nutritional history and curiosity for me.