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FInal Draft Project 2 - In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

Page history last edited by Samey Abdulrub 12 years, 7 months ago

       One of the most concealed problems in America is dieting. Many people these days listen to professional nutritionists and the “latest science” for advice on how to eat and what to eat. What most people don't realize is that they are constantly changing the ways of dieting and make the simplest question of what to eat to stay healthy into an incredibly complicated and confusing one. In “In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto,” Michael Pollan argues that nutrition science and professional nutritionists constantly change how we should diet and we, needing help, seek to them for guidance when we really need defense against them through persuasive rhetorical strategies. Pollan proposes a simple answer to what we should eat in seven words: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."


       Pollan states that many people who are reading his book would argue against him that who is he to tell us how to eat and advising us to reject the advice of science and industry. He creates a sense of ethos as he says that he speaks on mainly the authority of tradition and common sense. He raises some interesting thoughts on why they should listen to the authority of tradition and common sense. There were no nutritionists or people telling us what to eat long ago and have been doing with notable success. You would eat whatever your mom put on the table for you that were passed on from generations to generations. Humans navigated the question of what to eat without expert advice and instead they had culture to guide them. Pollan expresses the exigence of not needing expert advice to diet and just follow common sense and tradition.


       What is driving such relentless change in the American diet? One force that Pollan believes is a thirty two billion dollar food marketing machine that thrives on change for its own sake and another is constantly shifting ground of nutrition science. With the use of pathos and personal experience, he states that part of what drove his grandparents food culture from the table was official scientific opinion which decided in the 1960s that animal fat was a deadly substance. Food manufacturers stood to make very little money from his grandmother's cooking because she was doing it from scratch and her own cooking fats. By magnifying the “latest science” they managed to sell her daughter on the virtues of hydrogenated vegetable oils which we are now learning may be as well a deadly substance. He creates logos by listing a couple of examples that support his idea.  One example is in 2006 came news that a low-fat diet, long believed to protect against cancer, may not actually do such a thing. This shows how they are changing their views overtime so they can continue to receive a profit. Who wants to hear again that you should eat more fruits and vegetables? Institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutrition science, and journalism stand to gain a lot from the widespread confusion of what people should eat to stay healthy.


     With the use of enthymeme, one of the claims that Pollan proposes in his book on how to eat healthy is if you are concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. His stated reason for that claim is "because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it's not really food, and food is what you want to eat," which is part of the answer he proposes on how to eat healthy. The ground to his claim is that healthy food such as vegetables and fruits don't have any health claims. This is another part of his answer to the question of what we should eat to stay healthy: Mostly Plants. 


     Pollan argues that what he calls "the western diet", which in his view is lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, is more harmful then helpful. With the use of logos, he states how an intrepid group of doctors and medical workers that were stationed overseas early in the twentieth century observed that wherever in the world people gave up their traditional way of eating and adopted "the western diet", there soon followed an anticipated series of western diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer. By using logos, he is able to support his claim and persuades the reader exceptionally well.


     The answer is simple: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Through rhetorical strategies, Pollan successfully argues that we need defense against professional nutritionists and nutrition science because they are constantly changing the way we should eat to stay healthy just so they can continue to receive profits. The simple question on what to eat to remain healthy turned into a confusing and complicated one by nutritionists and food industries. Pollans aims, in my opinion, to reclaim the confidence of people on eating through common sense and culture in this book.

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