Michael Pollan: In Defense of Food

food-fight-green-prophet.jpgWith Tu B’Shvat just a couple of days ago the festivities are set to continue into the weekend with food-related events on kibbutzim and elsewhere around Israel.

So while our thoughts remain on what we eat and where our food comes from, Green Prophet would like to recommend some seasonal reading material in the shape of Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food which critiques Western diets and the modern obsession with nutrition:

“All of our uncertainties about nutrition [e.g. what’s worse: fat or carbohydrates?] should not obscure the plain fact that the chronic diseases that now kill most of us can be traced directly to the refined grains; the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures; the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture; and the narrowing of biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops.”Pollan and his previous book, The Omnivore’s Dilemna, have been hugely influential in the emerging new Jewish food movement, at which organisations like our friends at Hazon are at the forefront.”

What struck me as I read this last section, is that Pollan’s approach feels remarkably Talmudic,” says Hazon’s Leah Koenig. “What else did the Rabbis do but seek to uncover existing universal truths and use them to shape a code of ethics and commandments for Jewish people to follow? (We can only hope that Pollan will end up as Hillel, and Nutritionism as Shammai.)”

“After The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan became a rebbe for many foodie Jews (myself included). We now look to him as our source of reason as we attempt to nourish our bodies and, hopefully, our spirits. This status is only heightened by In Defense of Food – and it feels like Pollan is more willing than he once was to accept this role.”Hazon. Read it and Eat: A Review of In Defense of Food.::Buy the book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto(pic credit, thouzndwords)

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10 thoughts on “Michael Pollan: In Defense of Food”

  1. James says:

    just back to Michael’s post again, today’s Sierra Club email newsletter informs me that you can hear Michael Pollan talking about his new book online at: http://www.sierraclubradio.com.

    Anyone any protexia with Steimatskys? They bring over writers of chick lit for an International writers reading month; why not
    invite Pollan? Or, more seriously, the next Jerusalem Book Week
    could invite him to come …..

  2. harry says:

    Wait, don’t you mean teva oaf?

  3. Karin says:

    Avi, I agree there is a greater impact to eating meat, but I believe there is a middle ground. If one wants meat, one should eat it in moderation.

  4. Avi says:

    Karin..
    I actually doubt your mind ain’t “free enough” as you said, but it should be an interesting excercise for your mind (as for anyone’s) to get better informed about the actual enviormental (let aside, health) impacts of animal-based diet.

    There’s interesting stuff at – http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2007/09/17/index.html

    Peace out.

  5. Harry says:

    Well the “Oaf Tov” chickens certainly taste better and “cleaner” than the standard Israeli chicken, that’s for sure.

  6. Karin says:

    Avi,
    Ethical doesn’t mean that one should kiss and cuddle a chicken and give it love. I am talking about raising it and slaughtering it in a humane manner. My mind is free enough already, but thanks for the offer.

  7. Avi says:

    Bunch of things…..
    1. the picture is really cool, where’s it from?
    2. in reply to Karin, what the hell do you mean “raised under ethical conditions”?? …..If you raise and nurture something in the best possible way and give it love and warmth, just to kill it at last, does that seem right?

    I highly recommend taking a look at –
    http://www.jewishveg.com/faq.html

    Plus (if you read Hebrew well) –
    http://www.free.org.il/articles/qa.html

    Free Your Mind!! (that’s a recommendation, not an order) 🙂

  8. james says:

    No, I haven’t yet, but will go on a ‘Green Prophet’ mission shortly to discover …. and will blog about it. Watch this space!

  9. Karin says:

    James, did you ever find out if the locally produced “Oaf Tov” chicken are actually raised under ethical conditions?
    Karin

  10. James says:

    great post, Micheal. Bring on the food revolution across the globe. Are you also aware of what the celeb chef’s Jamie Oliver & Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are trying to spark on the issue of battery farming chickens in the UK ? Check out: http://www.chickenout.tv ….

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