We recently received an inquiry from Jane, through our submit a question portal. Jane's question was, “What do you think of publications by author, Michael Pollan? We have teachers wanting to use The Omnivore’s Dilemma and show Fresh, the Movie and we have a parent who is objecting.”
To answer Jane's question, we enlisted the help of food expert Dr. Ruth MacDonald, chair of the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University.
Dr. MacDonald replied, “This is a great question – one for which I do not have a short answer! Michael Pollan’s books are based on a non-scientist’s view of the food system. He is a journalist who developed a personal interest in foods and wrote a series of well-written books based on his personal viewpoints. These books certainly resonate with consumers who are concerned about the food system, but there is much mis-information, hype and even political undertones in his writing. A concern I have is that the general public does not have a full understanding of the complexities of food to fully understand the issues that Pollan is trying to tackle. If this is being read as the sole education about food, as a parent, I too would strongly object. If it is used in comparison to some fact-based educational sources written by credentialed food experts, then it would lead to a much more balanced conversation. At Iowa State University, we used The Omnivore’s Dilemma as a reading assignment in our sophomore level food systems course – but balanced it with scientific evidence to ensure an informed discussion.”