Posted by: Matt | April 3, 2007

Thoughts On Our Dilemma

Today, while I was reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, I jotted down some thoughts prompted by the book. As I attempt to explain some of them I hope I do not come off looking like I take myself too seriously. I have a tendency to get caught up in the moment and likely come off sounding silly. I apologize in advance, but I’m about to get up on my soapbox. You should probably just read Michael Pollan’s book, he makes the following points better and without taking himself too seriously.

Government does not appear to be in the business of doing what is right or best for it’s people, only what will make them happy. This may be obvious to some or it may sound very cynical. But I find it very easy to see in politics. We can find many examples in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Michael Pollan presents several cases where rulings by the government are influenced more by the food industry than the health of the country. The government allows several chemicals to be used in food that are thought to be carcinogens. Why? Because it’s easier to approve than to enforce a ban.

Many of these chemicals are also at the root of obesity. Everyone is aware that the United States is overweight. One of the reasons? Calories are so cheap. And why are they so cheap? Because the government wants to keep us happy by keeping the cost of food down. The most commonly used chemicals in food are derived from corn. Now corn may seem like a healthy food, and off the cob it likely is, but most of the corn grown in the U.S. is processed into several different products. And the most popular is high fructose corn syrup, or sugar. High fructose corn syrup is used in just about everything. And it gives us a bunch of cheap calories. Calories that taste delicious but hang about our bodies in obvious form.

I suppose what it really comes down to is choice. If we didn’t eat so much, so many empty calories, we wouldn’t be obese. If we refused to buy the unhealthy products the food industry is producing they would make something better. We can vote with our mouths and our stomachs. It really is about democracy in the United States and in that way government does just what we ask. I suppose the question I’m left with is this: does the government have a responsibility to do what is right, for the people and the planet, or is its only responsibility to do what we ask?



  1. I’m reading this book too and it’s downright frightening. Especially thinking about what our kids are being raised on. I’m trying desperately to avoid HFCS and I shop at our nearby farmer’s market to get local, organic produce and I spend more money than I can afford buying the less junky foods, but man, it takes so much energy, time and money to make these choices. I’m so exhausted–I think I need a twinkie…

  2. I’m strongly considering shopping at the farmer’s market once it gets going this summer. The nearest organic store is too far away so that’s out of the option. I just know I should do something about eating better food…

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