Ask Cowen Anything: The Healthiest Cuisine In The World?

Tyler Cowen’s tips for ordering for freshness bear repeating – from Will Dean’s review of Cowen’s new book:

If you’re in a rich Western city, choose a dish with sauce. Your raw materials might not be that fresh (they’ve been in a fridge for a few days), so the quality of the food will depend on the creativity going into its composition. America is good for this because it attracts lots of creative immigrants. Conversely, if you’re in a poor country with not much history of refrigeration then it’s likely the culture will be for food to be eaten as fresh as is possible, so that it doesn’t go off. Which means, Cowen says, that you should choose “ingredients-intensive” dishes – such as a barely adorned fish, or a plate of cheese and vegetables.

Marianna Tsatsou examines the original Mediterranean diet:

Homer wrote that the main substances of the meals were bread, meat and wine. … As for olive oil, which was already known in Homer’s Greece, they used it only as part of ancient Greek rituals – for example, in the Olympic Games athletes anointed oil to their body before entering the arena. Oil was not included in the “Mediterranean trio” until the classical times.

Dr. Artemis Simopoulos believes the diet followed in Greece before 1960 was best:

At one time, Greeks got omega-3s in every meal, Simopoulos says — in such foods as figs, walnuts, wild plants and snails. (Snails are considered good eating in France too, but Greek snails reportedly boast more omega-3s than their French cousins.) The consensus among nutrition experts is that Americans don’t eat enough omega-3s. And no one expects an influx of wild plants and gastropods into the American diet any time soon. But there are other good sources of omega-3s, including flax seed oil, cod liver oil and canola oil; soybeans and tofu; and fatty fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon.

Marc Gunther points to another culprit in unhealthy American cuisine:

Because “Americans spoil and cater to their children,” he argues, we grow up eating food that is “blander, simpler and sweeter” than food elsewhere:

A lot of American food is, quite simply, food for children in a literal sense. it’s just that we all happen to eat it.

Interesting, no?

Follow Tyler Cowen‘s work at Marginal Revolution and buy his new book, An Economist Gets Lunch. Earlier videos of Cowen here and here. Video archive here.