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I left a screening of Michael Pollan's new film In Defense of Food—based off his 2008 book with the same name and airing on PBS on December 30th—feeling overwhelmed.
Pollan's argument is that we don't need to jump on every hot dietary trend or study every piece of scientific literature: On the biological level, we know what to do ("Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," is how he sums it up) and we're actually bombarded with misinformation that persuades us to make harmful choices, often under the guise of health.
But even if every individual has the innate programming to eat well, the problems are huge and systemic: They're cultural and corporate and socio-economic and evolutionary, and they're not going to be solved in a day (and Pollan says that the food movement is in need of litigators and community organizers, especially).
In the meantime, what can we do? What can we do tonight?
We can cook! Cooking at home—using whole, minimally-processed ingredients and doing our best to think about what's in season and where it comes from—is the best way to support local food systems and to eat real food.
But elaborate, time-consuming meals aren't realistic. These 22 weeknight-ready recipes—full of vegetables, beans, grains, and the occasional meat/fish/chicken—provide real food fast, so you can do your small part to help (and help yourself in the process).