“The tyranny of reductionism,” Sigma Nutrition Radio #413: Anthony Fardet, PhD – Nutritional Reductionism, the Food Matrix & Impact of Processing

So, maybe it’s not cool for me to post a conversation about how our modern food systems are contributing to human disease and the destruction of the planet the day before a huge percentage of my readership is about to enjoy Thanksgiving feasts, but here it is. I guess I’m not cool. Like I say to my students, I never claimed to be nice. But like it or not, I’m doing you a favor to highlight this fascinating conversation between Danny Lennon and Dr. Anthony Fardet about food reductionism, and his philosophical and scientific understanding of healthful diet for ourselves and the planet. Basically, if you left previous conversations about nutritionism and the detrimental climate impacts of modern diets shrugging your shoulders and wondering what do we do about it, Dr. Fardet has one possible solution–change how we talk about and research food policies from a whole-foods perspective rather than a reductionist one.

Dr. Fardet is French, and it is difficult for me to hear this discussion without hearing strong, traditional French culture and values interwoven into his point of view. That’s a mark in his favor, from my point of view. I would love to eat more like many do in France. And one of the important caveats to his arguments, and he makes it himself, is an acknowledgement that the food systems are set up ways in ways that either encourage or discourage the sorts of whole foods diets he is promoting as the most healthful and climate conscientious. He understands that our current food systems are not designed to provide plentiful and affordable whole foods to folks equally around the world. Of course, here in the US, those options for us are deeply entrenched into other systems of privilege–to what extent we have access to and can afford fresh, whole foods, time and tools to prepare them, and space to store them in our homes. And many families have lost the generational knowledge to prepare a wide variety of such foods, too, increasing the generational health gap between populations.

And yet, with these acknowledgments, I really love knowing that there are folks like Dr. Fardet exploring these ideas and promoting them. Unfortunately, his popular books are apparently only available in French. I can speak French in a casual, conversational way, but I doubt I have enough specialized nutrition knowledge to pick up a book on food systems to understand it. Too bad. I’d love to hear more of his thoughts.

Did you give the conversation a listen? Have thoughts on whole foods diets and Dr. Fardet’s recommendations or philosophy? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below or find and follow Progressive Strength on Facebook and join the conversation over there!

Sigma Nutrition Radio Podcast

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