Michael Pollan talks with Adam Platt

Food guru and author, Michael Pollan sat down with Adam Platt to talk about food culture. It's a very interesting, if long read, and we recommend it for everyone. We pulled some interesting quotes below, but read the whole thing at Grubstreet.

We'd love to hear how you feel about what he says.
What’s that story [you want to tell about food]?

That food is ecological as well as sociological—that the way we eat is connected to the environment and to the health of the land.

My early work really did grow out of gardens. My idea was that you could understand a relationship to the natural world by looking in these places Americans hadn’t looked very much—the garden, the dinner plate, the farm. In general, when Americans want to think about nature, they go to wild places. And I’ve always thought of myself as a nature writer who doesn’t like to go camping or go too far from home. But nature is right here. It’s right under our noses.

What’s the matter with Go-Gurt? My daughters are Go-Gurt addicts. 

Just read the ingredients. It’s got so many things that aren’t yogurt. It’s got emulsifiers and texturizers and tons of sugar. Yogurt has become the feel-good delivery system for sugar in our food economy. Unless you’re buying plain, there is more sugar per ounce in the typical flavored yogurt than there is in a soda. And we all feel good about giving this stuff to our kids. It’s very clever marketing.

Should they be eating the millet of Burkina Faso instead? Is that the model? 

You know, I don’t think there is one ideal. But one of the most striking things I’ve learned is that all traditional food cultures keep populations healthy no matter what they are. We are indeed omnivores, and we’ve done well on whatever nature has to offer on six of the seven continents. The great irony is that now our civilization has managed to construct a new food culture that reliably makes people sick. It’s the first time in history.
Do you think their products are getting better?

I have very little faith in the project to tweak processed food. In general, when we make slightly-better-for-you processed food, we’re merely giving people an excuse to eat more of it. We’ve been here before— what I call the Snackwell’s Phenomenon. In the eighties, you could buy any kind of cracker, chip, cookie, and it had no fat. People assumed since it didn’t have this evil nutrient called fat, they could eat all of it they wanted, and so they’d eat whole boxes of these things. Of course, they were still fattening—they had upped the carbohydrates and salt to make up for the absence of fat. I think we have to turn our back on that approach, to the extent that we can. And I think that this is where Michelle Obama has—I understand why she’s gone down this path, persuading the food companies to make promises about sugar content, salt content. But it in the end it is legitimizing a processed-food diet.

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