Michael Pollan

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author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism

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MichaelPollan117 karma

There does seem to be a real increase in both gluten intolerance and celiac disease, for as yet unexplained reasons. I looked at this for my new book, and found several interesting theories: our gut microbiota has been damaged by our diet, and this may disorder the immune system, so that it attacks the wrong proteins (such as gluten). We're also exposed to a lot more gluten--it's in tons of processed foods. Also, we bake bread differently-- fast-rising instead of sourdough fermentations, which seems to break down the peptides that lead to reaction. Some people with intolerances can tolerate slow-fermented breads. And lastly, we've been breeding wheat to have more and more gluten. And lastly lastly, the power of suggestion-- gluten intolerance is "catching" thanks to the power of suggestion.

MichaelPollan70 karma

As far as we know HFCS and sugar are functionally the same-- my objection to HFCS is not that it is more toxic than sugar, but that it is more ubiquitous, and subsidized by our government. Also it's worth avoiding because if you avoid it, you are automatically avoiding processed foods. What home cook ever uses HFCS?!?!?

MichaelPollan70 karma

I still eat meat --though not much of it-- because I like it and I believe there are ways to raise it that is good for the land, the farm, our health and the welfare of the animals. See my chapter in Omnivore's Dilemma, "An Animal's Place" for the complete argument.

MichaelPollan69 karma

Many of you are asking for reading suggestions. All my articles are available for free downloading at michaelpollan.com. Hit the articles button and then search: animals, GM, food rules, fat, sugar, whatever.

MichaelPollan69 karma

I'll answer one of those--the other answers are in the article. Monsanto and its allies have kept us from labeling GM food, something that 80-90% of the population has consistently said it wants. Democracy is finally breaking out around this issue in California. But if it succeeds here, it will probably become the national normal, which is why prop 37 matters to everyone. It's important to know how our food is made so we can vote, with our purchases, for the kind of food we want to eat. Simple as that.

MichaelPollan58 karma

The trend of mashing up junk foods seems pretty bad: Tostidos and Taco Bell, that sort of thing.

MichaelPollan57 karma

We've been trying to label GMO foods since we began eating them 18 years ago, but the industry has fought it at every stage-- FDA, Congress, White House, state legislators. This is the rare opportunity, here in California, for the public to finally get heard on the issue.

MichaelPollan56 karma

Here's a link to the piece I wrote on GM labeling and the food movement: nyti.ms/T5jQsz

MichaelPollan53 karma

Agreed, that the food movement has been vulnerable to charges of elitism. However, activists seems highly sensitive to this charge and are working hard to democratize the benefits of good food-- see what's happening in urban agriculture, farmer's market vouchers for SNAP recipients, etc. But this is the frontier now, no question.

MichaelPollan51 karma

"Dismantling racism" is a big ask of the food, or any other movement. But it is on the agenda for many people in the movement. As you probably are aware, the problems of diabetes and obesity are worse in the African-American community than in the country as a whole. The reasons are complex, but it comes down to the fact that the food system we have is designed in such a way to make the healthiest calories in the market the most expensive, and the least healthy calories the cheapest. This is partly a function of government subsidies. Access is another issue that people are working hard to address.