Posted by: bridget | 29 January 2007

Why is this News?

Michael Pollan, of the famous Omnivore’s Dilemna, has a mini food treatise in the New York Times. He points out the problems with modern American food science: scientists isolate nutrients, do not analyze them in conjunction with each other, and make sweeping pronouncements on the suitability of particular foods. Americans, aided by food manufacturers who capitalise on such pronouncements, eat or avoid particular nutrients. Most of our food is highly processed (no kidding); Americans do not eat enough unrefined foods; and fortifying foods does not help (although Mr. Pollan ignores the addition of iodine to salt – one victory for the “nutritionism” side).

Mr. Pollan’s recommendations should not be NY Times material.  Everything he said is entirely sensible and should be obvious to any reasonably intelligent person.  Eat things that resemble food, avoid high fructose corn syrup, eat more veggies. Organic food tastes better, is healthier, and is better for the environment. The “French paradox” is mentioned but mostly ignored. The French eat fewer calories overall, a larger variety of foods, exercise more, and enjoy what they are eating. Sure, they eat a lot of cheese and chocolate, while drinking a lot of alcohol, but that is obviously healthier than eating Big Macs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Coke. Is it really a paradox that they are healthier?  Ultimately, why is this news?

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