Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

Every day Americans eat some type of processed food. But how many of them are aware of the healthy and unhealthy processed foods they are eating? In Michael Pollan, “Escape from the Western Diet”, and Mary Maxfield, “Food as Thought: Resisting the Moralization of Eating”. Both Maxfield and Pollan provide their own thoughts on issues with the American diet.
In Michael Pollan’s, “Escape from the Western Diet”. Pollan calls the “western diet” processed food, his main goal in his article is to stop people from eating processed food because it is not good for your body. Pollan states, “People eating a Western diet are prone to a complex of chronic diseases that seldom strike people eating more traditional diets” (Pollan 421). According to Pollan, it is making Americans fat and have a higher chance of getting diseases. Foods are being processed so much that its barely even considered natural. Processed food does not have much nutritional values.
Nutritionism according to Pollan means, when someone focuses of single nutrients. Things such as the lipid hypothesis, the carbohydrate hypothesis, and the omega-3 Fatty acids are being blamed for why the Western diet is responsible for so many diseases. People tend to blame something that is easier to deal with. “It is only natural for scientists no less than the rest of us to gravitate towards a single, all-encompassing explanation” (Pollan 421). However, we do not have to choose one to decide how to eat well. They are only theories; the real solution would be to stop eating a Western diet.
The food industry feeds off people’s beliefs in these theories and they use them to further process their food. According to Pollan, “The food industry needs these theories, so it can better redesign specific processed foods; a new theory means a new line of products, allowing the industry to go on tweaking the Western diet instead of making any more radical changes to its business model” (Pollan 422). The food industry would rather blame something specific than admit that the food they are serving is the real problem.
In Mary Maxfield, “Food as Thought: Resisting the Moralization of Eating”. Maxfield explains how Michael Pollan is just as guilty as the people he is criticizing. He argues that the food industry and food scientists are taking advantage of our cultures obsession with food. Maxfield argues that we should be able to decide what we eat and that we can trust ourselves to make good healthy choices. She says that, “when we attempt to rise above our animal nature through the moralization of food, we unnecessarily complicate the practice of eating” (Maxfield 446). She claims that we are making something that comes naturally to use more difficult than it needs to be.
Maxfield talks about the body mass index tool. It is to show if we are at a healthy weight for our height. Weight is not the factor that determines health. People can be healthy even if they are not at the right BMI number. It is society that says fat is unhealthy. It just depends on the individual. Each person is built different, and different factors that play a part in each person’s health.
In conclusion, Michael Pollan and Mary Maxfield both provided their own take on the issues with the western diet. Pollan’s idea for escaping the western diet is to pay attention to what you are eating and to not buy cheap food. Maxfield’s idea for escaping the western diet is to trust yourself and you will make good decisions on the food you eat.

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