Have you read Michael Pollan’s latest essay about the state of gastronomy in the US? It’s called Unhappy Meals and is worthy of the 16-page printout. {Pollan also authored Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I took to heart.} If you like to eat and wonder why it is so easy to get fat in our culture, he explains it quite well.
A couple of quick quotes I thought were rather well written and insightful:

“The story of how the most basic questions about what to eat ever got so complicated reveals a great deal about the institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutritional science, and journalism… Humans deciding what to eat without expert help — something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees — is seriously unprofitable if you’re a food company, distinctly risky if you are a nutritionist and just plain boring if you’re a newspaper editor.”

“The fate of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather, while the processed foods are simply reformulated. That’s why when the Atkins mania hit the food industry, bread and pasta were giving a quick redesign, while the poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the cold. Of course it is a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness.”

Mr. Pollan, if I could invite you over for dinner tonight, we’d have acorn squash, bean soup and a nice salad with soy ice cream for dessert — all in moderation, of course. And maybe a bottle or two of wine and lots of conversation on how to motivate the masses to read the ingredients, grow your own food and eat less while enjoying food more. Consider yourself always invited and keep up the good work.