Sunday, September 27, 2009

Michael Pollan Lecture at Xavier: Better than Donuts

It's confusing and treacherous territory at the grocery store. Michael Pollan's books and articles have attempted to offer us some guidance in a time of general nutritional chaos, and on Sunday, he offered more advice in a lecture at Xavier's Cintas Center, clocking in just under an hour.

Armed with a Kroger bag of groceries in each hand as he took the stage in a pair of striped sneakers, he laid down some of the same themes he'd explored in his books. The demonizing of certain nutrients while we sanctify others, the link between our healthcare crisis and our diet crisis, and the pitfalls of nutritional science in its current form.

And then he touched on the really scary stuff, like the powerful viruses coming from cattle and hog breeding facilities. And the fact that Froot Loops cereal receives a "check" as a "Smart Choice" food because, as Pollan quotes an unnamed nutritionist, "it's better than donuts."

His lecture reaffirmed my admittedly already solid belief in the guy. He's on our side - the side of the supermarket shopper, the consumer, the eater. His passion is evident, his concern genuine, and his arguments are sound. In the confusion of the supermarket, we need some guidance. And if Michael Pollan is going to help us out, well that's a hell of a lot better than donuts.

Anyone else make it to the lecture? What were your thoughts?


Julie said...

My only issue with the guy is he tends to put the blame of American food's current state on the fact that women now work outside of the home. I don't think he's deliberately trying to be anti-feminist, but that always rubs me a little bit the wrong way.

I love, however, that he's put where our food comes from squarely in our consciousness. Sure, lots of folks have talked about it before, but Pollan is probably the most successful, vocal, and visible-- and that's great. I really wish some of his suggested changes actually came about.

The fruit loops thing just slays me. My parents never let me have sugary cereals as a kid (remember Fruit and Fiber? That was as sugary as I got, and I still have a great love for dried dates because of that darn cereal) and I never developed a taste for super-sugary stuff because of it. Thanks, Mom.

Allison Johnson said...

He does pinpoint changes in food culture alongside the time more women entered the workforce, and I'm in agreement with you, it's a little bit hard to swallow. But his argument yesterday to that point was not that we should "enslave women" by putting more of the cooking burden back on our shoulders, but that we should "enslave men too."

My mom was the same way with cereal, but she had no power over us when we went to our grandparents' houses. And they always had Lucky Charms on hand for us. Still grateful that sugary cereal did not become a part of my regular diet.