Filed Under: Big Fat Lies Food Police

NY Times Magazine Writer Allies With Radical Food Activists

At the end of last year, New York Times Magazine contributing editor Michael Pollan became a professor at UC Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism. Most famous for his book The Botany of Desire and his New York Times Magazine cover story on the life of a steer, Pollan is a respected and influential journalist. But he’s also a tireless opponent of American food producers and providers. In October we noted his New York Times Magazine cover story decrying inexpensive corn, cheap burgers, and expanding snack food choices. Last month Pollan organized two Berkeley events that brought together the most notorious food cops and opponents of modern food — and intentionally excluded dissenting voices.

On November 19, Pollan moderated a session called The Politics of Obesity: Confronting Our National Eating Disorder. It featured food scolds Marion Nestle, Joan Dye Gussow, and Big Brother Kelly Brownell; Pollan called them “the three most important, most eloquent voices in the debate over our food system.” (The panel is available on streaming video; see time index 1:10.)

Pollan continues:

Were you to ask a group like the Center for Consumer Freedom, they would tell you that this is a seriously unbalanced panel, over-representative of what they like to call the Twinkie Police. I plead guilty. (1:30)

So there you have it. This journalist doesn’t even try to air both sides of the debate. Pollan acknowledged his endorsement of Marion Nestle’s most recent book, which called her “one of the sanest, most knowledgeable, and independent voices in the current debate over the health and safety of the American food system.”

Pollan also raised no objection when Nestle claimed that
Americans should be paying more for their food
: “Until we can fix somehow the price structure — get people accustomed to paying more for food — I don’t know what the answer [to obesity] is.” (1:12:30) Joan Gussow concurred, saying simply: “We have to pay more for food in this country.”(1:19:45)

Pollan’s November 24 panel featured opponent of large-scale anything Wendell Berry, “Slow Food” movement guru Carlo Petrini, Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, and anti-biotech fanatic Vandana Shiva. They were introduced by former
Chefs Collaborative
leader and organic-only maven Alice Waters. The panel was called “Fast Food World: Perils and Promises of the Global Food Chain.”

Once again, Pollan bought into his invited guests’ party lines: “It’s kind of daunting being on a panel and speaking with many of my own teachers, really. These have been my mentors on this panel. Taught me, really almost everything I know about food.” (13:05)

One of these “mentors,” Carlo Petrini, argued (through a translator) that there are “four engines that we cannot stop that are taking us directly into deaths. These four engines are made up of science, technology, industry, and profit.” (29:46) Petrini also complained that too many people would soon be enjoying their Thanksgiving dinners: “A couple of days from now there is going to be an enormous killing of turkeys. Massacre. 45 million turkeys will be massacred. So we have to slow down these things.” (139:50)

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