Michael Pollan Debunks Food Myths
So that’s the capitalist imperative behind food. The fact is we would be better off with the oatmeal [i.e., unprocessed food]. The industry has many tricks to make sure we don’t eat the oatmeal. One is to market the wonders of these processed products. The other is to convince us we’re too busy to cook. And they’re very good at that. If you look at the picture of American life, family life on view in food commercials for television, you would think it’s this frenetic madhouse in every household in America, where the idea of cooking is absolutely inconceivable.
Yet, at the same time, there are images of people lounging in front of the television, doing their email and doing all sorts of other things, but there’s simply no time to cook. I think we’ve been sold this bill of goods that cooking is this heroic thing that only happens on special occasions.
It’s funny to think of something as domestic as cooking and gardening as subversive, but it is. It is the beginning of taking back control from a system that would much rather do everything for you. The food industry wants to cook for you, shop for you, they want to do everything but digest for you and if they could figure out a way to do that profitably, they would. It’s all about making money. They need to convince you that you can’t do this stuff on your own. That gardening is hard, growing your own food is old-fashioned. Cooking is just so hard, we have to cook for you.
OR: I think you refer to a related phenomenon in our relationship with food — this Puritan bias that “bad things happen to people who eat bad things.”
MP: We moralize our food choices. This as an example of how science is more influenced by ideology than perhaps we realize. We’ve tended to focus on the evil nutrients as the cause of our problems, but of course, it’s just as possible that it’s the lack of beneficial nutrients.
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