Sunday, September 27, 2009

Michael Pollan Extra Credit

Michael Pollan

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Kohl Center

“In Defense of Food” is a wake up call to everyone of the “western diet”. Michael Pollan states we should eat, “Real food-the kind your great-grandmother would recognize as food”. I find it great that there is an overflowing crowd for this even, seems like the VIP section on the floor likes to arrive right on time. Seriously, Michael Pollan work is centered on “nutritionism” which has masked the roots of a growing problem of people who consume the western diet.

Michael first brought the problems of health and the whole food system. Using Fruit Loops as example he showed that supermarket is made up of chemicals and sugar. The box of Fruit Loops was shown to be healthy when in fact it was half sugar. This leads into an “American Paradox” when Americans are obsessed about health but we eat unhealthy.

His next topic that is the basis of his book is nutritionism, breaking down foods into its good and bad nutrients. Nutritionism is constantly changing as scientists find new nutrients to add into foods. Nutritionism is the staple of the western diet where it gives bias to processed foods. Fruit and whole foods never change where as processed food, like the Fruit Loops mentioned earlier, can change its box to include what was the fad at the present time. Michael even goes to say his next evil nutrient is omega-6 that blocks the absorption of omega-3 fatty acid. The omega-3 fatty acid is a “good” nutrient. The model nutritionism in the food system makes companies billions of dollars leading to a resistance to change, which is bad for the entire population.

To add to the confusion of nutritionism food messages are becoming more confusing. Instead of talking about foods labels state nutrients which are not equivalent. The more confusion the label makes the more people are uninformed and cannot make right choices. As food became more nutrient oriented companies could sell more and more food because you can eat more food because the foods are full of “good” nutrients. Add the fact that good and bad nutrients are constantly changing and you have a society set up to lose.

You can take for example the low fat campaign in America. Science took away most of the fats in foods but then had to add more flavor foods got more salts and oils. People were inclined to binge on food and in fact America got heavier to the ring of about 12 pounds per person. The science of fat was wrong as saturated fats are not as bad as they seem, trans fats which were used as a substitute is worse.

All in all we as people need to eat whole food, not processed, nonliving chemicals and nutrients. Societies all over the world live off of many different foods. Where is no processing or engineering of food people are less likely to get diseases. We need to change our way as a society as a whole eats and thinks about food. We need to enjoy and get higher quality food. We have a great challenge before us.

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