A Nutritionistic Perspective and its Roots in a Broken Agriculture System

The American diet has shifted continuously throughout time, following and forming to fit within societal expectations and norms. For example, during World War II, meat was rationed and households commonly practiced “meatless Mondays” in efforts to support the cause. However, in more modern times, American diets have shifted to adapt trends than necessities. Specifically, in more modern times, the American diet has adapted to form under the trend of nutrition. However, author Michael Pollan has a certain distaste for the current trend of the American diet and considers it “nutritionism.”

An advertisement for Meatless Mondays during WWII.




In his book, In Defense of Food, Pollan describes nutritionism as a shift “from eating food to eating nutrients” and to help define it, he quotes Marion Nestle, another author, “[nutritionism] takes the nutrient out of the food, the food out of the diet and the diet out of the lifestyle.” Pollan believes that the shift towards eating nutrients has distanced eaters from the source of their food and has created a relationship between people and nutrients rather than people and food itself. Chicken breast has been reduced to its molecular make up of protein. This distances the eater from their food because that chicken breast is no longer acknowledged as a once living creature that had to be raised and cared for by farmers, but is simply protein instead.

Pollan’s solution to nutritionism is to encourage consumers to purchase foods from farmers markets, and local farms. This, of course, is easier said than done for whole foods are significantly more expensive than the processed packages that are accessible in grocery stores. Therefore many Americans don’t have access to the foods that Pollan suggests.

Instead, a solution that reduces the cost of whole foods and aims to reconnect farmers, their products, and the consumers must stem from the Agricultural system of the United States.


This graphic depicts how the nutrients of certain meats become important, rather than the animals themselves.

1 thought on “A Nutritionistic Perspective and its Roots in a Broken Agriculture System

  1. Jannely P Pina

    Hi Dana,
    I can definitely agree with you on how the perspective of nutrition has greatly changed over the years. I feel like these days it is hard to find food products that are truly 100% “nutritious” and “healthy”. It’s crazy to see how even the foods that we consider to be organic are not always the healthiest options either. I really liked how you talked about the meat/chicken process and found this to be very relatable in regards to how farmers feed their livestock. In the King Corn video we saw that when it comes to global corn export, the United States is the major supplier over everyone else put together. The cultivation of corn is huge and majority of the corn is fed to live stock on farms and companies that sell that livestock for consumption.

    Response #2


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