Fanatical food author Michael Pollan has blamed America’s double chins on everything from inexpensive groceries to flourishing corn fields. His recent book finds even more to vilify. In Defense of Food adds canned soup to the growing list of everyday foods that draw Pollan’s ire. The literary food cop wrote this latest tome to provide practical dietary solutions to the problems addressed in his previous book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. But—as a review by online magazine Slate points out—his advice is anything but practical:
One minute he’s carefully explaining the difference between “free-range” and “pastured” eggs, the next minute he’s perched on his own private planet brandishing a grocery list that might as well be headed “carrots, magic” …
But these bouts of the surreal don’t reflect his politics, they reflect his religion—the holy, catholic, and apostolic church of food, where only martyrs and lost souls have to shop at Safeway.
Like many of his nutrition activist peers, Pollan writes his prescriptions from an ivory tower perspective, sneering at bourgeois dishes (like oven-fried chicken and Chinese takeout) that many Americans enjoy with their families. Fortunately, the Slate reviewer is quick to serve Pollan a side of perspective with his all-natural elitism:
There’s nothing wrong with any of those dishes if they’re occasional rather than constant. Pollan won’t have it. Home cooking derived from any era before Berkeley in the 1970s brings out the Cotton Mather in him. If you’re “the kind of cook who starts with a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup,” he warns, “all bets are off.”