Simple Charts and Complex Food
2. Via John from Dymaxion World, here's an interesting article on how to eat healthy from Michael Pollan in the New York Times.
Basically, the argument is that the mechanism in which food sustains human health is too complicated to be fruitfully simplified into concerns about this vitamin, or that saturated fat or whatever. What this means in practice would be that as foods are simplified (and processed foods have typically been simplified) and as our diet focusses more on obtaining specific individual nutrients, we are likely losing out in ways we don't yet, and might never fully understand.
I've often heard people argue that unprocessed foods are healthier than processed ones, but this is the most convincing argument I've seen as to why we might suspect this to be true.
Certainly, if my math degree taught me anything, it was the limitations of our ability to understand complex systems by reducing them to simplified component parts, and it seems logical that the relationship between the human body and food would easily be complex enough to take on those characteristics. It also offers an explanation for why science seems to flail about on this topic so much, with foods that were advocated one year being condemned the next and vice-versa. Still, it would be easier to eat more unprocessed foods and a more diverse array of food if vegetables didn't (almost) all taste so bad.