Thursday, February 18, 2010

Response to Pollan's 'In Defense of Food'

This weekend, I had a chance to sit down and read the first half of Michael Pollan’s book entitled In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. In the first chapter, Pollan discusses his first main point and talks about how supermarkets have been switching to substitutes for real food, such as margarine, powdered eggs and others. Also, he claims that the new substitutes, which contain bunches of artificial ingredients and chemicals, advertise low-fat and low cholesterol. In the second chapter, Pollan stresses his second idea of “Nutritionism”, which states that foods are grouped into subcategories such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins and vitamins. This enforces the belief that processed foods with specific nutrients are healthier than normal whole foods themselves. The third chapter discusses the history of “Nutritionism” and how the government promoted substitutes nearly 60 years ago. He begins with the specific example of how butter was replaced on the supermarket shelves with margarine. Believing that butter, which contains a fair amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, caused too many health problems, margarine became the “healthier choice” and filled the shelves of supermarkets throughout the country. The Food and Drug Association created the idea that food with saturated fat was terribly unhealthy and would lead to heart disease. Currently, the idea of low fat diets has swept the media and marketing firms for food companies. An article on the FoxNews website discussed how we are being pushed by the FDA to consume only low trans-fat foods. For example, Lays Potato Chips has made a conscientious effort to eliminate trans-fats in their chips. Lastly, Pollan discusses another point in chapter four. He claims that we have been manipulated to purchase foods that have labels such as “low-carb” or “whole-grain” instead of buying normal fruits and vegetables. Overall, I definitely agree that Pollan’s first four chapters in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto has given me a new outlook on nutrients and healthy foods.

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