The Corn Man

Michael Pollan is probably known as the (anti-) corn man, but he is much more than that. I think I have a little crush on him. 😉 He’s eloquent and precise, he’s thorough, and a good disseminator of scientific information.

I just finished In Defense of Food, which explores the shift from focusing on whole foods to individual nutrients—reducing a steak to protein, saturated fats, cholesterol, and essential fatty acids. And how this cherry-picking has led to enriched “edible food like substances.” He compares the American and French paradoxes, summarizes scientific studies, and gives basic guidelines for eating. There is also the Pollan paradox, which is to say that he uses lots of nutrient-speak to critique the Age of Nutritionism, but he addresses that.

Here are a few quotes:

• Because plants living on organic farms aren’t sprayed with synthetic pesticides, they’re forced to defend themselves, with the result that they tend to produce between 10 percent to 50 percent more of these valuable secondary compounds [antioxidants] than conventionally grown plants. Page 120

• Even connoisseurship can have a politics, as when it deepens our appreciation for the work of the people who produce our food and ruins our taste for the superficial pleasures of fast food. Page 195

• To reclaim this much control over one’s food, to take it back from industry and science, is no small thing; indeed, in our time cooking from scratch and growing any of your own food qualify as subversive acts. Page 200

I’m happily subversive.

If you don’t have time to read the book, this interview is a good summation.

One thought on “The Corn Man

  1. I’m really interested to read this book. I’m finishing up “Real Food” (you inspired me to get it from the library) and will potentially move on to that in one or two reads.

    I especially like the part where you reference his distinction between whole foods and individual nutrients. I’ve had a few ‘duh’ moments lately, realizing just how effective Ma Nature is at giving us exactly what we need…if only we’ll listen to her, in this case, through our bodies’ signals. 😀 She has, after all, been perfecting this nutrition thing for thousands of years, whereas we silly humans have been seriously manipulating our diets for less than 200 if them.

    Keep on inspiring!

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