May 8, 2008 -- Eat food. Don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
"It's one way to distinguish between the food and foodlike substances. If [your great-great-grandmother] picked up a pack of portable yogurt tubes, would she recognize this? I don't think she would," Pollan told "Nightline's" John Donvan.
Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims.
Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are (a) unfamiliar, (b) unpronounceable, (c) more than five in number -- or that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
Get out of the supermarket whenever possible.
"You know your dentist, you know your doctor, you know your mailman. Don't you think you should meet the guy/gal who is providing your sustenance?" Pollan said.
Pay more, eat less.
"Real food costs more than edible foodlike substances, by and large. You can do it but … if you don't have the money you're going to have to put more time in. I think we need to begin to spend more on food, both in terms of money and in time," said Pollan.
"On the price issue, real healthy food, food that you get at the farmers' market, organic food, it does cost more. There's no question. And that there are people who can't afford to eat well in this country, and that's really a shameful situation. And I think it has to be addressed at the level of politics. There is a reason that the processed food is so cheap and that reason has a lot to do with our agricultural policies in this country. We subsidize soy and corn. We don't subsidize fresh produce."
Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. People who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are.
"I'm arguing we don't, that the experts have not been guiding us very well and that people ate very well long before they had nutrition science, long before they knew what an anti-oxidant was, and that we would do well to go back to that time where culture instructed us in how to eat."
Cook. And if you can, plant a garden.
"We think it's too difficult," Pollan said. "And I don't know what that's about, but I think it has something to do with watching cooking shows on television. We see all this heroic cooking going on … and we see these brilliant cooks making these dazzling meals that look really hard. And they are really hard. But that's not normal food. That's special occasion food. So we're kind of pinned to our couch with something the experts do, cook, and how could we possibly do it ourselves? But, you know, it's really simple. It really is simple. I'm not a great cook, but I know if you have a pan and you have some olive oil and you have some garlic, that's all you need. You can go to the market, you can get a piece of fish, a piece of meat, vegetables and with those things you can make a really good meal in 15 minutes."
Eat like an omnivore.
"We used to eat a greater diversity of plants and animals," Pollan said. "But over time, as we've industrialized agriculture, a process that really begins around World War II, after World War II, we start narrowing the number of crops we're growing. We kind of focus in on a couple of big ones. Corn and soybeans, two of the biggest, and turning corn and soy into the appearance of diversity we find in the supermarket. And all those different things, you know, they look really different. If you, if you go down the middle aisles in the supermarket, you see so many different brands and so many different products, but most of them are processed corn and soy. So we're eating those two species and we used to eat dozens more species."