Posted by: lexyknits | January 2, 2008

Comments on: In Defense of Food

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food I haven’t read this book. I heard him talk about it on today from when he was on Morning Edition. His book sounds interesting I guess, the boiled down premise being “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” which seems like reasonable enough advice. Yet listening to his privileged elitist voice kind of made me want to strangle him. 

He rails against “edible food like substances” and says that we should use as a rule of thumb whether or not your great-grandmother would recognize Product X (i.e. Go-gurt) as food. Now I am all for trying to eat as naturally as possible because it’s you know, logical, and yet I find myself snacking on candy-bars and Doritos and “edible food like substances” with some frequency… why? Because they’re delicious, dumbass. Oh yeah, and cheap, and easy. 

I don’t know when and how Mr. Pollan’s own food is prepared. Perhaps his charmed life as expert food writer means that he has hours of free time to shop for fresh, local organic produce (mostly plants, remember) and prepare them in a delicious way. Hey jackass, some of us work full time and commute an hour each way by bus and barely have time to fix a healthy nutritious dinner let alone three meals a day full of fibery planty goodness. Not to mention the fact that I have a… what’s that thing called… oh yeah, a budget! I would love to buy and cook with fresh vegetables for 21 meals a week with just a touch of protein and very little seed (grain) products. Even if I had the time, I certainly do not have the money. I have to pad my meals with pasta, potatoes, preserved products, cheap cuts of meat, and so on so that I don’t pass out during the day from hunger.

Mr. Pollan says “You’re going to have to spend more time or more money… it’s really a question of priorities”. Good call, I should totes not pay my water bill so I can eat all organic natural food. Or maybe my electric bill? Maybe I should work less hours so I have more time? I mean Mr. Pollan, what pray tell should I prioritize here so that I can be pure and worthy and a “good” person. His advice isn’t bad on its own, if you’re an upper middle class American who can afford to spend $400 on groceries per month per person in your household and have the time and inclination to prepare 3 veggie/fruit filled meals a day. Otherwise he’s a bit out there as far as reality is concerned.

If he had taken his premise toward the direction of “we should make whole and nutritious foods more widely available and affordable for real American families” I would like him. Instead he sounds like “If you eat cream of chicken casserole, well you obviously don’t have a clue about what’s best for you.” Which, besides being patronizing is really pretty ignorant.

Like I said, I haven’t read this, I might check it out from the library along with his other book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” but I certainly won’t be plunking down any hard earned money on this guy until he proves not to be an elitist jerk.



  1. You say that Michael Pollan sounded like a jerk but after reading your article I think it is you who sound like the jerk. I was inspired by the NPR interview to try to feed my children and myself healthier. What is wrong with taking steps to make your family more healthy?

  2. “Yet listening to his privileged elitist voice kind of made me want to strangle him. ..” Snicker!!

    Though I am a vegan who gives a damn about my health and aims for more-or-less nutritious food, this is why I have to avoid shopping too much at places like Capers and Choices! There are a lot of people stocking up their carts, all-too-willing to pay thrice the amount for an organic or fair-trade equivalent of something I can get for cheap at another grocery store. I’m not saying fresh/nutritious/organic/fair trade is wrong, but to subsist solely on that level requires a certain type of privilege, and a larger-than-av disposable income. Of course, they would argue that it is a “choice” they make, and it is only ignorance, laziness or cheapness that dissuades everyone from partcipating. This is the mindset that grates me. I am from a poor family and know that, basically, complete and varied nourishment is not a choice for many. Poor families know you can stretch a buck a lot further on things like potato and pasta, instead of organic greens and fruits at every meal.

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