The Flaws within Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food”

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food tackles the issue at the heart of America’s health problems today: Nutritionism. Throughout the book, Pollan mentions how the science behind Nutritionism is flawed, saying that “Few scientists ever look back to see where they and their paradigms might have gone astray…” Later, Pollan explains how Gary Taubes “blew the whistle on the science of the lipid hypothesis by explaining how there is no scientific evidence backing the hypothesis.” In one breath, Pollan discredits science as a non self-correcting methodology, while in another, uses the lack of scientific evidence to support his narrative. Pollan’s praise for the science when it come to support his narrative, and his dismissal of it when it doesn’t is troubling to say the least.

Pollan also mentions that eaters used to have a sort of a relationship with the foods that they ate before the industrialization of food. Before, humans used to have a relationship with other biological entities as part of a larger ecological system. However after the industrialization and the deculturalization of food, humans are now seen as the top of the ecological food chain, and thus not “food”.   I thought this was an interesting take because the thought of food as “separate” from humans, implies that humans are above the ecological system and thus the top of the ecological system. This thought of humanity on top is not something that is new. This coincides with Western industrialization, and parallels the ideologies of Western thought arising at the time (non-white populations that were considered inferior to white populations, driven by things such as colonialism, slavery, and genocide). When Pollan says that food has separated from humans, he isn’t lying. You need only to look at the effects of Western ideologies to see how this could happen.

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