Michael Pollan

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Der Gropenfuhrer (bodybuilding supplement pusher) and Pollan in 2010
Potentially edible!
Food woo
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Fabulous food!
Delectable diets!
Bodacious bods!

Michael Pollan (1955–) is an American journalist, author, and food activist. A 2006 New York Times review of his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma. described him as a "liberal foodie intellectual".[1] He has also been accused of "promoting 'denialist' anti-GMO junk science" by Forbes as well as being duplicitous on his anti-GMO stance, appearing in anti-GMO documentaries and arguing against GMOs, yet when asked direct questions of their safety he usually agrees with the scientific consensus that they are safe, usually not in the same interview.[2] His main argument against GMOs is that they do not really improve the regular diet but contribute to an already broken food industry, while they are just as bad to eat as anything else produced in excess.[3]

In a 2007 essay he wrote for the New York Times, Pollan proffered his now famous simple line of nutritional advice: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."[4] While this is seemingly simple advice, the rest of the article describes how nutrition is made more complicated than necessary in order to package "nutrients" as opposed to simply "food." Pollan sees an unhealthy influence over nutrition going back at least to the 1970s with cattle ranchers pressuring the government not to recommend consuming less meat. He says "nutritionism" is not a science, but an ideology over-emphasizing nutrients "out of context" of food. Notably, Pollan is not a dietitian (someone formally trained in dietetics), but a nutritionist (someone interested in food); his formal training is in English.[5] He criticizes fad diets and sugary cereals' claims regarding whole grains. There's quite a helping of appeal to nature, but he really doesn't mention organic food much, if at all. Mostly he says, "Eat more fruits and vegetables." (French fries and catsup don't count).

He was criticized by Daniel Engber in Slate for arguing that food is too complex a subject to study scientifically and blaming reductionism for today's health ills, while at the same time using nutritional research to justify his own diet advice.[6] But in reading the article, Pollan does not say scientists should not study food. Rather, he is critical of much of the science performed — for example, studies based on asking people what they ate and how much — and perhaps more importantly, basing one's decisions on what to eat (or what supplements to buy) on the latest headline news about the latest research.

In 2009 Pollan said at a Pop Tech conference, "I hope I’ve driven home the point that our meat eating is one of the most important contributors we make to climate change. A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius!"[7] This probably inspired some self-righteousness among vegans and/or Humvee drivers, but was erroneous. The carbon dioxide-emitting differential between vegans and heavy meat eaters was initially estimated at about 2 tons/person/year vs. the differential between Prius drivers and Humvee drivers is about 4.75 tons/person/year.[8] A revised estimate for Prius vs. Humvee was 2.6 to 3.3 tons.[8] To Pollan's credit, after learning this, he requested that his statement be removed from Pop Tech's webpages.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. Kamp, David (April 23, 2006). "Deconstructing Dinner". New York Times. 
  2. Entine, Jon (August 24, 2013). "Michael Pollan Promotes 'Denialist' Anti-GMO Junk Science, Says He Manipulates New York Times' Editors". Forbes. 
  3. The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-Food World by Michael Pollan (2006) Bloomsbury. ISBN 0747586837.
  4. Pollan, Michael (January 28, 2007). "Unhappy Meals". New York Times. 
  5. Q & A: A Conversation with Michael Pollan by Russell Schoch (January 4, 2004) reprinted from California Monthly by Michael Pollan.
  6. http://primary.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2007/01/survival_of_the_yummiest.html
  7. Michael Pollan's Gospel of Sustainable Food by Rachel Barenblat (10/24/09 16:10 UTC) Pop Tech (archived from May 8, 2010).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Crunching the numbers on a vegan in a Hummer by Adam Pasick (13:10 October 26th, 2009) Reuters Blog.