by Marion Nestle
May 23 2010

Michael Pollan writes about the food revolution

Michael Pollan has a long essay in the New York Review of Books based on a review of five books: “The Food Movement, Rising.”

Here’s my favorite quotation from it, for obvious reasons:

Beginning in 2001 with the publication of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, a surprise best-seller, and, the following year, Marion Nestle’s Food Politics, the food journalism of the last decade has succeeded in making clear and telling connections between the methods of industrial food production, agricultural policy, food-borne illness, childhood obesity, the decline of the family meal as an institution, and, notably, the decline of family income beginning in the 1970s.

At the risk of reading too much into this, I think the fact that the New York Review of Books thinks the food revolution is worth writing about is an indication of how far this movement has come.

In an essay in the latest issue of Food, Culture, and Society, “Writing the Food Studies Movement,” I talk about the first class I ever taught about food and nutrition.  This was at Brandeis University in the fall semester, 1975.  In this class, I assigned two articles from the New York Review of Books:

  • Barraclough, Geoffrey.  I. The Great World CrisisNew York Review of Books, January 23, 1975.
  • Barraclough, Geoffrey.  II. Wealth and Power: The Politics of Food and Oil. New York Review of Books, August 7, 1975.

These astonishingly prescient essays – still well worth reading – addressed the ways money, energy, and food are inextricably linked to each other and to global power politics.

Then, nothing.  Thirty-five years later, the New York Review finally figured out that food politics is worth space in its pages.  Pollan’s article is a sign of how far the food movement has come.

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  • So happy to hear this and am truly glad that food politics is finally getting a light shined down up it. Journalists and nutritionists are now uncovering the food industry for foodies, chefs, and the everyday Joe, which is so important!

  • Tom

    Great pieces all! Though the second Barraclough essay link doesn’t work.

  • Bobby

    Concerning some of the books you discuss in “Writing the Food Studies Movement” I have to say that after I read Fast Food Nation, I completely stopped eating fast food, for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who read the book and it’s excellent description of meat slaughtering procedures for the fast food industry cheap burgers. If you didn’t read the book, it’s describes the fact that cowpoop contaminates the meat and therefore becomes part of the burger meat. Proper food handling and cooking procedures are supposed to reduce the risk of illness, but no sane person wants to eat cowpoop in their burgers. Yuck.