Michelle Allison, the Fat Nutritionist, dislikes the term “real food” and writes today that “all foods, like all women, are real.” She explains (emphasis hers):
No, this does not mean that all foods are nutritionally equivalent, or that all foods are good for all people in all situations, but it does mean that choices around food must be individual, that all food choices can be valid, depending on the person and the circumstances, and that universal pronouncements on a food’s relative realness are not helpful or, well…real.
“Real food” is not a real thing. Because what constitutes food is too many things.
I’m as guilty as the next “real foodie” of thinking that there is a meaningful difference between a tomato and a Twinkie, but it’s probably worth keeping in mind that at the end of the day (no matter how long it will live on your shelf), a Twinkie is actually food and not everyone wants, needs, or can afford to eat like a caveman or like Michael Pollan.