Samples Food Food and Class

Food and Class

953 words 4 page(s)

In the recent years, journalists, doctors, and even philosophers focus people’s attention on a new trend – nutritionism. It is especially popular in the Western world where people are likely to consume much fast food. In the article “Escape from the Western Diet,” Michael Pollan expresses an opinion that unhealthy eating is a tool used by the food and medical industries to get more money and one of the key factors that explain why so many Americans have chronic illnesses. However, Mary Maxfield criticizes this approach claiming that the idea of healthy eating is just a cultural domain and there are no ties between what one eats and how one feels. Whichever is true, food is a fuel without which a human is unable to live, and it goes without saying that the quality of this fuel directly influences the state of people’s health, their psychological and social well-being. Therefore, to break up the vicious circle and to contribute to the health of the nation, Americans should reconsider their dietary habits switching from fast food to more natural products and start to take the consequences of unhealthy eating for their health more seriously.

According to M. Pollan, nutritionism, though presented as a way of improving people’s health, is nothing but a marketing vehicle. On the one hand, it allows the food industry to use scientific theories as an effective argument for people to buy new products. On the other hand, with its help, the healthcare industry, which views nutritionism as ‘a matter of temperament, philosophy, and economics (Pollan 437),” increases the sales of new drugs that treat chronic diseases caused by unhealthy eating habits of Americans. So, instead of attempting to prevent the problem, the industry uses it as a source of income.

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Therefore, Pollan encourages people to change their attitude to food and presents his alternative vision of healthy diet that he calls “eating algorithms (438).” First of all, he suggests that people should take a more serious approach to the choice of food they consume. Most of the popular products of the Western diet are almost completely made of the processed material that has no natural ingredients in it. Consuming this food, people, in fact, break the natural food chain: each of the links in it should contribute to the health of the next one, and people, by consuming industrial food, deprive themselves of all useful elements one can find in natural products. By this assumption, Pollan has formulated three rules that, in his opinion, will help people to make their diet healthier, namely “Eat food. Not so much. Mostly plants (Pollan 440).” The first rule presupposes that people should separate whole food from industrial food and avoid eating the latter. The second rule deals more with the way people consume products: “the manners, mores, and habits that go into creating a healthy, and pleasing, culture of eating (Pollan 440).” Finally, the third rule suggests that it is better to substitute fast food with fruits and vegetables as they contain many vitamins. None of these rules suggests that people should get back to the diet their ancestors had. More than that, it makes the process of products choice more comfortable and allows people to create a healthy and diverse menu.

In addition, Pollan claims that people should change their attitude to food and take a more ecological and cultural approach to the problem. The problem is that, when discussing the connections between food and health, most people think only about their physical condition and the way a particular nutrient can influence it. However, the concept of health presupposes a complex of various factors including mental and psychological conditions of people, the environment they live in, and their social relationships. Therefore, a diet should be perceived not merely as a set of products one eats or does not eat for some reasons but as a philosophy that aims at improving the quality of people’s lives. However, M. Maxfield criticizes this approach claiming that people’s understanding of health should not be culturally determined (444). She expresses an opinion that Pollan’s theory is likely to establish too close connections between the health and the weight of a person that can be viewed as discrimination. Moreover, Maxfield states that there should be no such notions as healthy and unhealthy food, and people should trust their bodies. However, modern industry has learned to deceive human body: some products are delicious, but they are equally harmful.

Summing up, the problem of healthy eating is extremely urgent for the modern American society. Regular consumption of fast food, lack of the culture of eating, and misunderstanding of the connections between health and dietary habits harms physical and emotional states of people. To change it, Americans should choose the products they eat more attentively giving priority to more natural products, vegetables, and fruits. Moreover, it is essential to pay attention to the culture of eating, namely manners and habits since it also contributes to people’s health. Another critical problem is the attitude of people to their dietary habits. On the one hand, some people claim that food should be perceived exclusively as fuel consumed by people to survive and that it should not be viewed from the ethical perspective. However, according to Pollan, eating also has its philosophy, and the state of people’s emotional, mental, physical, and social well-being depend on how well they understand and accept it.

  • Maxfield, Mary. “Food and Thought: Resisting the Moralization of Eating.” They Say/ I Say: the Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, 2nd ed., Orton & Company, Inc., 2012, pp. 442–447.
  • Pollan, Michael. “Escape from the Diet.” They Say/ I Say: the Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, 2nd ed., Orton & Company, Inc., 2012, pp. 434–441.