Friday, February 19, 2010

Post:1 response to In Defense of Food

I agreed with Pollan’s reasoning and point of view about the Western diet now; it has gotten out of hand and is progressively getting more and more artificial and unhealthy. I was not too fond of the way he would talk about Justus von Liebig though. In his time Liebig was a very intelligent person who discovered the cause of scurvy and its treatment, Vitamin C. He purpose was not to “drive food into a corner and force it to yield its chemical secrets” (p. 21). He was merely trying to diagnose an illness and along with that diagnosis he discovered the amazing chemistry of food that no one had known about. If it hadn’t been for Liebig we may not know all that we know about food now and Pollan wouldn’t have the chance to even write this book. So, why does Pollan betray Liebig as if he is the enemy? The way that Pollan words his opinion in the book he sounds like Liebig was picking apart food and breaking it down to single nutrients, and betrays it as his fault that we are eating fake food, when that is not the case at all. Liebig could not have known that his discovery would open Pandora’s nutritional box and lead to poor diets in Americans. For all we know it could’ve gone the other direction and we could be eating much healthier food. I don’t think Pollan can just put all the blame on a man who discovered something more than 100 years ago who thought would benefit the world rather than expose it to risk. For me this was a pretty bad start to Pollan's book and my opinion of him quickly went from moderately agreeable to not even wanting to read the rest of it.

That said, I think Pollan had valid arguments about the food industry. The food industries try everything they can to produce a product that is cheaper to make and has a long shelf life. By doing this they are taking out all of the natural ingredients in the food that makes it healthy at all. Hydrogenation of margarine is one of these examples in the book that follows the rules of not being an “imitation” food because it contains all of the nutrients that are in butter. It turns out that the actual hydrogenation is much worse than the natural fats that are in regular butter.

I agree with Pollan’s view on the food industry now, but I don’t like his style or the way he backs up his arguments. Pollan tends to repeat a lot of what he says many times, and after mentioning that nutritionists aren’t as smart as they think they are, more than twenty times it tends to get a bit annoying. I like his ideas, but not his writing style.

1 comment:

  1. I like your comments about Pollan. Too many responses online and in newspapers have been more a love-fest then an actual critique of his writing and how he makes his argument. I think many of his points are valid, but I agree there were times when he made too simplistic an argument, i.e. blaming one man for the western diet and nutritionism.