#11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television.
Food marketers are ingenious at turning criticsm of their products-and rules like these-into new ways to sell slightly different versions of the same processed foods: They simply reformulate (to be low-fat, have no HFCS or transfats, or to contain fewer ingredients) and then boast about their implied healthfulness, whether the boast is meaningful or not. The best way to escape these marketing ploys is to tune out the marketing itself, by refusing to buy heavily promoted foods. Only the biggest food manufacturers can afford to advertise their products on television: More than two thirds of food advertising is spent promoting processed foods (and alcohol), so if you avoid products with big ad budgets, you'll automatically be avoiding edible food like substances. As for the 5 percent of food ads that promote whole foods (the prune or walnut growers or the beef ranchers), common sense will, one hopes, keep you from tarring them with the same brush: These are the exceptions that prove the rule.
Bogus health claims and faulty food science have made supermarkets particularly treacherous places to shop for real food, which suggests the next two rules. -Michael Pollan, Food Rules