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Pollan Denounces Whole Foods Boycott

By FoodNerd August 28, 2009

[caption id="attachment_13018" align="alignleft" width="383" caption="Mackey and Pollan"]Mackey and Pollan[/caption]

Increasingly, I'm starting to think that Michael Pollan is letting fame get to his head. He's a smart person with a tendency to just open his mouth and say boneheaded things. First, he blamed our lousy diets on feminism . Today, he denounces the boycott on Whole Foods, which I wrote about favorably here . Pollan writes that although he disagrees with Mackey's every-man-for-himself views on health care, he won't stop shopping at Whole Foods, and neither should you, because "if they were to disappear, the cause of improving Americans’ health by building an alternative food system, based on more fresh food, pastured and humanely raised meats and sustainable agriculture, would suffer."

Once again, Pollan is letting his privilege show. The people most likely to partake of America's mainstream food system of fast-food burgers, processed chicken nuggets, and hormone-laced meat don't shop at Whole Foods—not because they wouldn't like to buy pastured and humanely raised meats and sustainably farmed produce, but because they can't afford to. The fact that Pollan and his ilk (e.g. Alice Waters) can't or don't choose to see this is a huge flaw in their push for improving America's food system.

Oh, and he continues by raising the old fatties-should-pay-more-for-health-care canard in a different guise, arguing that if health care companies weren't allowed to turn people away, they'd be more interested in prevention, e.g. letting overweight and unhealthy people know that eating that crap is bad for them. That's optimistic (not to mention condescending) and still misses the point: People don't eat "bad" food because they aren't aware it's bad for them; they eat it because that's what they can afford. Short of Whole Foods lowering its prices (or, you know, locating any of its stores in poor neighborhoods), it's hard to see the health-food giant making much of a difference in the diets of everyday, non-wealthy Americans.

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