Today I went out of his way to buy organic and no-hormone-added groceries on the way home from the gym, then ate a chocolate chip cookie after lunch without really thinking about it. Somewhere, Michael Pollan shed a single tear.
I've been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, and it is a fascinating book. It is less of a polemic than Fast Food Nation or other books of that sort; it is written from the point of view of a person who really enjoys food, and doesn't want to eat any junk - sort of like how book and film critics who most people would view as being overly critical really just love the media they review and are disappointed when new books or movies don't live up to their high standards.
Pollan's books leaves me of two mind, as I expected it would. On the one hand, the statistics he includes are staggering - one in five meals eaten in America is consumed in an automobile, "food products" like Twinkies and Powerbars disproportionately outnumber "food" like produce and fresh grains and meats in most supermarkets, and ingredient lists on packages of food include increasingly long lists of substances derived from corn and soybeans. There's no actual cane sugar in a can of Coca Cola anymore, but there are several different sweeteners, all of which are derived from corn. At the same time, the proposed remedies all include spending a lot of time and money - buying organic products, eating meat from animals that have been fed natural diets (grass for cows, algae and small fish for salmon and tuna, etc) instead of animal by-products and corn and soy derivatives, cooking from scratch more often and eating meals at tables instead of heating up frozen or canned food and eating on the run. I'd like to buy an enormous freezer, buy a whole skinned and gutted cow from a butcher shop, and carve it myself into its various cuts, which I can then cook slowly and flavorfully and serve with sides of organic brussel sprouts and portabello mushrooms, but, frankly, I work twelve hours a day for very little money, and I just don't have the time or the money to do much more than throw a chicken breast on a the Foreman grill and pour some Frank's red-hot sauce on it. And in none of my small New York apartments have I had the space in my apartment to store that much fresh food in a way that will keep it from spoiling or being ruined by pests.
Eating well is a challenge. Michael Pollan's book has prepared me to meet that challege, but until I win the lottery and/or sign a $10 million per year contract to play centerfield for the Boston Red Sox, it is going to be a challenge I will struggle to overcome.