3

votes

Does anyone know if Michael Pollan has responded to Paleo?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 28, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Perhaps he already has, or there is something relevant in one of the books. I think it would be interesting to see a response or some kind of comment from him, since he has such a huge audience. He shares a lot of the same concerns: no processed foods, no sugars or refined carbs, omega-three versus omega-six, etc. But of course he's still a lipophobe and in particular a saturophobe. And his "mostly plants" nonsense leads, of course, to the sort of hunger that drives people crazy and makes them overeat . . . Anyhow, the way I think of it (maybe a little maliciously), it's as if he was on the way to paleo and didn't quite make it. Just missed the boat.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on October 10, 2012
at 10:46 PM

if they were terrible then the Greeks won't live so long. but maybe that's because they sprout and ferment their grains, i don't know.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on March 10, 2012
at 11:17 PM

Yes, you do need to edit this, you're a mod now for goodness sake. :-P

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on March 09, 2012
at 09:25 PM

See my comments to Al below. Man I really need to edit this question.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on March 09, 2012
at 02:44 PM

WCC Paul, what is your favorite Pollan book?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:42 AM

@Al, sorry I'm going crazy with the comments, one more thing. You make a good point: "I find his 'eat mostly plants' advice to contradict some of the evidence he himself mentions in the book, but I think I read in an interview that he gives this advice because the meat most people eat in this country is from grain- (and god knows what else) fed animals." If it's true it could account for the discrepancy between your view and mine, or at least soften the disagreement. But you know my question was mostly just: if we pitched a theoretically best version of paleo to Pollan, what would he say?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:33 AM

And for the record -- this is funny because this is the first question I ever asked on Paleohacks, the day I joined -- I would be thrilled to get Michael Pollan on our side, and I think he has done amazing work. But I also bristle when I read various things he has written, because he seems so confident that he is right and, as I wrote in my question, I think he "just missed the boat." So I guess I feel ambivalently about him -- and I think we saw the same ambivalence in the answers to the question from last summer: some people are with him, some are against him.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:23 AM

right now, but I think I remember accurately that, even if Pollan does not say we should *never* eat saturated fat, he does say we should keep it to a minimum. He also says we will be healthiest if we eat either no meat or minimal meat. The introduction to *In Defense of Food* also mocks those who would suggest we remove bread from our diet.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:19 AM

Thanks for resurrecting this old thread. I wrote what I did in my question based on two things: the entirety of the book *Food Rules: An Eater's Manual* and significant portions of *In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto*. I have read nothing else by Michael Pollan but I still stand by what I say. The book *Food Rules* is admittedly tiny and may not include everything he said elsewhere, but if you allow a book called *Food Rules: An Eater's Manual* to be published under your name then you should be prepared to stand behind what it says. I don't have it here with me [Continued]

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on April 10, 2011
at 02:26 AM

Really? That's disapointing... I'll pretend I didn't read that!

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 10, 2011
at 01:57 AM

Excellent clear concise fair post. His first book, Dilemma, had a profound effect on me and only strengthened my stance.

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on January 08, 2011
at 02:41 PM

Then it's doubly odd that he'd say "no processed foods" after admitting that grains were the first "processed food". But that's what happens when you consider non-food to be food.

525ceb06bc8862932d853a033411e3b7

(350)

on January 02, 2011
at 07:51 PM

Exactly, Pollan reaches millions of people through his books and movie (Food Inc.). If you are interested in more people becoming healthy through Paleo, it helps to have well-known champions of the movement. If you want to keep health to yourself like a jealous troll, then shun all heroes of Paleo....

525ceb06bc8862932d853a033411e3b7

(350)

on January 02, 2011
at 07:49 PM

You've been Nestle? Like in a past life? or did you possess her? ;)

D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423

(821)

on August 02, 2010
at 12:45 PM

Maybe you can badger him into fixing his damaged sense of justice towards pollan

Db56a3a7ef6f208222cb501f29741b64

(30)

on August 01, 2010
at 12:34 AM

read his book - the omnivores dilemma, he talks about processed grains being the first processed food

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on July 29, 2010
at 09:59 AM

It would help if he recognized that grains were the first "processed food" (i.e., requiring processing to become edible).

95ab15c8ef50ff0daf87ccbdd52cd3b8

(2384)

on July 29, 2010
at 12:27 AM

Nobody but a few million readers.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 28, 2010
at 10:40 PM

I've been Nestle on several occasions. I think she is wedded to the animal-fat-is-bad idea emotionally, which is a shame because she looks like she has aged 20 years in five. She is also for very strict food regulations that would destroy many small farms.

95ab15c8ef50ff0daf87ccbdd52cd3b8

(2384)

on July 28, 2010
at 08:30 PM

The problem is that he takes his nutritional advice from Marion Nestle, who is... someone who should know better, and probably does, but apparently doesn't want to alienate her crunchy-veggie-leftie following by getting off the animal-fat-is-evil bandwagon.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on July 28, 2010
at 07:54 PM

Except that once you have put yourself out as "the mostly plants guy" it would be hard to change your mind.

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10 Answers

11
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on July 29, 2010
at 03:04 AM

Paleo should NOT be like vegetarians and have itself become such a mono-sighted dogma. Pollen is mostly about clean natural sources of food- thats Paleo. He also has no problem with hunting and gathering- thats paleo, too. He sees the evil in grains like Corn. I disagree with some things he says but I also disagree with the Weston Price folks too. Lets not be so limited in our approach to Paleo - that can not be good in the long run.

9
30df8959135d038e0de61bc6e6427f57

(90)

on April 10, 2011
at 01:50 AM

This thread is old, but I thought I'd respond anyway. As someone who has actually read "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan, I'm very surprised by some of the comments I'm seeing here. Michael Pollan, a "lipophobe"? It's because of his book I learned for the first time that saturated fat is not the devil. He does a fantastic job of smashing conventional wisdom on sat fat to pieces and is critical of medical and government advice that demonizes sat fat.

I find his "eat mostly plants" advice to contradict some of the evidence he himself mentions in the book, but I think I read in an interview that he gives this advice because the meat most people eat in this country is from grain- (and god knows what else) fed animals.

Regarding the grain issue, I don't think Pollan claims to know 100% what you should and should not eat. He is coming from a completely different perspective from say, those heavily promoting the paleo diet, government food intake guidelines, fad diets, etc. He believes it's too simplistic to reduce food to the "nutrient" debate and goes by what appears to have worked well for very healthy populations in the past and the present. In sum, he believes the common thread with all of them is that they ate whole foods, whether that's the Masai tribe of Kenya, whom he says subsist on cow meat, cow milk and cow blood (with hardly or no fruits and vegetables), to traditional Inuit populations whose diet he claimed is up to 70% saturated fat, to the 7th Day Adventists, who eat a largely vegetarian and whole grain-based diet.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:33 AM

And for the record -- this is funny because this is the first question I ever asked on Paleohacks, the day I joined -- I would be thrilled to get Michael Pollan on our side, and I think he has done amazing work. But I also bristle when I read various things he has written, because he seems so confident that he is right and, as I wrote in my question, I think he "just missed the boat." So I guess I feel ambivalently about him -- and I think we saw the same ambivalence in the answers to the question from last summer: some people are with him, some are against him.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on April 10, 2011
at 01:57 AM

Excellent clear concise fair post. His first book, Dilemma, had a profound effect on me and only strengthened my stance.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:23 AM

right now, but I think I remember accurately that, even if Pollan does not say we should *never* eat saturated fat, he does say we should keep it to a minimum. He also says we will be healthiest if we eat either no meat or minimal meat. The introduction to *In Defense of Food* also mocks those who would suggest we remove bread from our diet.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:42 AM

@Al, sorry I'm going crazy with the comments, one more thing. You make a good point: "I find his 'eat mostly plants' advice to contradict some of the evidence he himself mentions in the book, but I think I read in an interview that he gives this advice because the meat most people eat in this country is from grain- (and god knows what else) fed animals." If it's true it could account for the discrepancy between your view and mine, or at least soften the disagreement. But you know my question was mostly just: if we pitched a theoretically best version of paleo to Pollan, what would he say?

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on April 10, 2011
at 05:19 AM

Thanks for resurrecting this old thread. I wrote what I did in my question based on two things: the entirety of the book *Food Rules: An Eater's Manual* and significant portions of *In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto*. I have read nothing else by Michael Pollan but I still stand by what I say. The book *Food Rules* is admittedly tiny and may not include everything he said elsewhere, but if you allow a book called *Food Rules: An Eater's Manual* to be published under your name then you should be prepared to stand behind what it says. I don't have it here with me [Continued]

5
D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423

(821)

on July 29, 2010
at 08:51 AM

I agree with Pollan that a person should eat mostly plants. I understood that he meant them in the natural state: fruits and vegetables.

His point is agaist processed foods, not so much against meat consumption, as against poisoned agribusiness meat, which as has been discussed on this forum, is more dangerous than the agribusiness fruits and vegetables.

IMHO, he is doing a great job, and he and his followers should be wooed rather than shunned.

Db56a3a7ef6f208222cb501f29741b64

(30)

on August 01, 2010
at 12:34 AM

read his book - the omnivores dilemma, he talks about processed grains being the first processed food

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on July 29, 2010
at 09:59 AM

It would help if he recognized that grains were the first "processed food" (i.e., requiring processing to become edible).

D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423

(821)

on August 02, 2010
at 12:45 PM

Maybe you can badger him into fixing his damaged sense of justice towards pollan

9cfa1ab909f6f89544be665d4ef6e3ea

on January 08, 2011
at 02:41 PM

Then it's doubly odd that he'd say "no processed foods" after admitting that grains were the first "processed food". But that's what happens when you consider non-food to be food.

5
691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on July 28, 2010
at 07:04 PM

You would think the author of Botany of Desire would rethink his 'mostly plants' ideal when botany shows a lot of his beloved plants are filled with lectins, glutens, and other chemicals that interfere with the human body.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on July 28, 2010
at 07:54 PM

Except that once you have put yourself out as "the mostly plants guy" it would be hard to change your mind.

95ab15c8ef50ff0daf87ccbdd52cd3b8

(2384)

on July 28, 2010
at 08:30 PM

The problem is that he takes his nutritional advice from Marion Nestle, who is... someone who should know better, and probably does, but apparently doesn't want to alienate her crunchy-veggie-leftie following by getting off the animal-fat-is-evil bandwagon.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 28, 2010
at 10:40 PM

I've been Nestle on several occasions. I think she is wedded to the animal-fat-is-bad idea emotionally, which is a shame because she looks like she has aged 20 years in five. She is also for very strict food regulations that would destroy many small farms.

525ceb06bc8862932d853a033411e3b7

(350)

on January 02, 2011
at 07:49 PM

You've been Nestle? Like in a past life? or did you possess her? ;)

3
87cba283db80beed9c2c9b1da638551b

(50)

on July 29, 2010
at 03:22 AM

Sometime last year, I heard Pollan say on an NPR program that "Bread is good food." It's kind of hard to take him seriously now...

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on April 10, 2011
at 02:26 AM

Really? That's disapointing... I'll pretend I didn't read that!

1
D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

on October 11, 2012
at 01:31 AM

I don't see Pollan as a god by any means, but I am here because I first read Pollan. I don't fear saturated fat because of Pollan. I learned about Weston A. Price and opened my mind to the idea of ancestral health via Pollan. Whether that was his initial aim or not doesn't matter, because while imperfect, he spoke truth. I think the ancestral health community shares more in common with Pollan than not.

That said, if I'm going to preach to anyone about switching to a healthy diet, I'm going to first say switch to real food. I'm not going to preach the evils of grain or complain about anti-nutrients and autoimmune protocols. In my opinion, that's like trying to teach astrophysics to a third grade science class. First of all, that's too complicated, too soon. Second of all, they may not even need to get that advanced to go on and live a healthy life. Believe it or not, many people don't need to be strict paleo to be healthy and nourished.

1
04a4f204bc2e589fa30fd31b92944549

(975)

on October 10, 2012
at 10:01 PM

I thought Omnivore's Dilemma was a wonderful book. People seem to think eat mostly plants means "don't ever eat meat". That's not what he's saying! He just thinks if you do, it needs to be grassfed/humane. The one thing that disappointed me about the book was his pro-grain stance, he argues that we have co-evolved with these grasses and the seeds are "highly nutritious". I disagree.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on October 10, 2012
at 10:46 PM

if they were terrible then the Greeks won't live so long. but maybe that's because they sprout and ferment their grains, i don't know.

0
Dc757b6b46b19225ec2b222e56d0eb95

on May 14, 2013
at 03:58 PM

fiberjean...look at uswellnessmeats.com for meat and other natural food selections.

0
6820501c4cbe075f36a314d227086825

on May 11, 2013
at 01:37 PM

I have no idea how I happened upon this thread but am trying to adopt a Paleo diet after following Pollan for a few years and finding it (the paleo diet) very impractical and depressing. I read all of these responses and feel much better about adopting a very modified paleo diet. Going to search for better meat where I live. I live in the country now and know it is here. No WholeFoods anywhere to shop. But animals grazing and tons of CSAs. I like what Michele had to say (above) even if it was a couple years ago.

0
154d799847153f5589f99496a9bdbb71

on July 28, 2010
at 10:36 PM

He shares a lot of the same concerns: no processed foods, no sugars or refined carbs, omega-three versus omega-six, etc.

So do raw vegans. Who cares what Pollan thinks?

95ab15c8ef50ff0daf87ccbdd52cd3b8

(2384)

on July 29, 2010
at 12:27 AM

Nobody but a few million readers.

525ceb06bc8862932d853a033411e3b7

(350)

on January 02, 2011
at 07:51 PM

Exactly, Pollan reaches millions of people through his books and movie (Food Inc.). If you are interested in more people becoming healthy through Paleo, it helps to have well-known champions of the movement. If you want to keep health to yourself like a jealous troll, then shun all heroes of Paleo....

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