2022-12-03

Sensible words from Michael Pollan

Well, you know, it’s very interesting. Since this book came out, where I argue don’t buy high-fructose corn syrup and don’t buy products with more than five ingredients, suddenly the industry is—you know, they’re so clever. I have to hand it to them. But now they’re arguing that their products are simpler, and there’s new Haagen-Dazs 5, which is a five-ingredient Haagen-Dazs product. You know, it’s still ice cream. Ice cream is wonderful, but we shouldn’t treat it as health food because it now has only five ingredients. … Frito-Lay potato chips now is arguing that they’re local. Now, you have to remember, any product is local somewhere. Right? This food doesn’t come from Mars. But to think that Frito-Lay as a local potato chip is really a stretch.

So, I’ve had to update my rules. And with all this new marketing based on these ideas, my new suggestion is, if you want to avoid all this, simply don’t buy any food you’ve ever seen advertised. Ninety-four percent of ad budgets for food go to processed food. I mean, the broccoli growers don’t have money for ad budgets. So the real food is not being advertised. And that’s really all you need to know.

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1 thought on “Sensible words from Michael Pollan

  1. Well, he’s right, of course, but from the glass-half-full perspective it’s probably a good thing the processed food industry feels the need to react to (even while distorting) the real food movement. Maybe one point is that some undeniably processed but decent foods (ice cream and potato chips, but also bread, chocolate (as opposed to candy bars), beer, etc.) can be plausibly made with five or fewer real ingredients while others (Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs) — not so much. So Haagen-Dazs ice cream may not be a great substitute for broccoli, but I think it’s fair to claim it’s healthier than a lot of other stuff.

    (When in doubt I always go back to Pollan’s famous Three Commandments: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”)

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