Monday, September 28, 2009

Michael Pollan Talk

            The format of the event was a formal speech given by Michael Pollan, with multiple introductions. There wasn’t exactly a lot of audience interaction. People clapped and hooted if they liked what Pollan said, but there wasn’t much room for questions. The general content of the presentation was a discussion on Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. All most of Pollan’s facts were backed up by expert opinion, which was usually his own, statistics, and scientific evidence by other experts.

            I actually agree with most of the points Pollan made in his presentation and in his book. One smaller point he made in his presentation was that things labeled “health foods” probably aren’t real foods. This makes complete sense to me because if something is modified to make the food healthier, then it probably wasn’t a natural process. If a food isn’t produced by natural process then it really isn’t food.

            I also agree with the point Pollan made when he said that we really don’t eat for pleasure or community anymore. We eat to satisfy our hunger and that’s about it. People in our society rarely sit down to eat as a family or community to talk about important issues or daily occurrences. People in our society maybe take ten or fifteen minutes to eat, while other countries, such as in Europe, take one to two hours to eat. They do this to share the events of their day and discuss significant issues regarding their lives. I feel like we do need to go back to this way of eating to bring back other importances of eating besides satisfying our hunger. 

            Another point I agree with when it comes to Pollan’s talk is the point he made about shopping only at the edges of the grocery store, which is where all of the grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products are located. All of these products are what we need in our diet, and our diets should be limited to those products. Of course we can deviate from these food groups every once in a while, but we should try and stick with the basics.

            One thing I can’t get past with this whole argument is why it matters so much what we eat. I think humans are smart enough to make their own decisions on what they want to eat and they don’t need people preaching to them all the time and harping over them about what to eat. We need to educate the public as much as we can about what they are eating and then let them make the decision. If someone wants to choose to eat a McDonald’s hamburger then let them. In making this decision they might work out an extra half hour at the gym to compensate for that unhealthy hamburger. All in all I think we are all smart enough to make our own decisions when it comes to food and everyone should stop trying to impose their ideas on other people.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blog #1

            So far in the book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan has basically shot down almost every idea that I and most of America, has thought to be true of food. Pollan, at least so far, has challenged many well-believed tales and tricks about food and good health. One in particular is that products that say they are healthy usually aren’t. He claims that if food is labeled as a health “product”, that’s usually what it is, a product, not food, which is what you want to put into your body. I would have to say I mostly agree with this claim. It’s like a selling point for food products. If I were the manufacturer of a processed food product, not very healthy because it’s processed, but not necessarily bad for a person either, I would try to tie as much health points to it as possible because that’s what our society is obsessed with today. The fact that a product says its healthy will basically sell itself. Another interesting point Pollan brings up is the idea that vitamins really aren’t that beneficial to a person’s health. The thing that is helping our bodies grow strong is when the vitamins are eaten as food. An article from the New York Times called “Vitamin Pills: A False Hope?” by Tara Parker-Pope, also argues this point. In this article Parker-Pope claims that there have been numerous studies over the past decade and most of them have shown that there was no significant change in the subject’s health that took vitamins versus ones who didn’t. I must say I completely agree with Pollan and Parker-Pope. I think that the reason for vitamins is so a person’s body can get nutrients that the body can’t make on its own. As Parker-Pope states in her article, “But a balanced diet typically provides an adequate level of these nutrients,” I completely agree and so does Pollan. If people would just eat a healthy diet of FOOD, and not try to supplement their under-nutrient diet, with vitamins and heath products, I think we all would be a little better off.