Brown rice onigiri

Whole grains, like this mixed brown rice & wild rice rice ball, don't need to be boring - but they're definitely good for you

There’re a lot of buzzwords around food, like everything else. Organic, Natural, Pure, Fresh – and another one, that used to be restricted to the health food shop, but is being used more and more commonly, is Wholefood.

So what is a wholefood?

You hear the term bandied around a lot these days, or I do, anyway. I’ve been hearing (and talking) about wholefoods since I studied nutrition back in the 90s, but for some reason the term seems to have gone almost mainstream these days. Michael Pollan talks about them in In Defence of Food, and Michael Evans wrote a whole book around them in his new Real Food Companion. (a book I really want to get my hands on, incidentally! It looks scrumptious.) But whole foods aren’t restricted to just Michaels.

So what are wholefoods? And why should you care?

It’s hard to give a proper definition. I think the term ‘wholefood’ has come to be as much emotive as descriptive, and it was never intended to be a black and white categorical definition. But a wholefood, ideally, is a food that’s been processed (or meddled with) as little as possible – so it’s as close to whole as possible.


You're still allowed to take the skins off your onions!

That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to take the skin off your onion, or wash the dirt off your potatoes. It just means, as a rule of thumb, that brown rice contains more nutrients than white rice, and is usually better for you – and definitely better than rice puffs or bubbles! By the same token, eating an apple is much better for you than eating an apple pie.

Of course, a little common sense is still needed. Chickens still need to be plucked before you eat them, unless you want a mouthful of feathers and not much else. And it’s still probably better to cook those potatoes after you’ve washed them, rather than chowing down on them while they’re raw.

But food that’s as fresh as possible, as little processed as possible, and as nutritious as possible? That’s wholefood. Yum!