How do you shop?
or, consider Michael Pollan's Food Rules, perhaps.
It is an inescapable fact that we must buy food and feed ourselves. For me, that means one thing, for you another. Our consumption, linked through evolution to an instinct for survival, is likely as broad in scope and approach as it ever has been before. From the ‘kill animal, cook animal’ approach of our forbears, to the ‘open app, order food’ of the worst of our current system, the deviation from a universal norm is vast in our day and age.
I adore snooping on other people’s shopping baskets in the checkout queue. I find myself mesmerised by the choices people make, the handy stereotypes that we all end up falling into, and the tropes that are too wonderful to ignore.
I am almost pathologically incapable of thinking scientifically about my observations though. Thank god then for Michael Pollan, American journalist and author intent on exploring and understanding the sociocultural impact of food. He has written extensively and expansively on food and diet, and spending time with one of his books is a mind-expanding exercise. I buy and give away his smallest tome regularly, and picked up another copy recently to re-read; Food Rules ‘distils the wisdom of history and traditional cultures to three simple rules:
Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
In it, Pollan presents a list of rules encapsulated by these three statements, and what is wonderful for a shopping basket snooper like myself, is most of these rules respond to how we’ve been conditioned and manipulated to behave in supermarkets and food shops, and how we can avoid falling into the marketing man's dietary wasteland, even when we think we’re buying things to do us good.
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