Letter: Obesity Doesn’t Just Happen

To the Editor:

In Nicola Smith’s review of Michael Pollan’s book Cooked (“Let Them Eat Whole Foods,” May 22), she says that the high obesity rate in the U.S. can’t “be laid at the door of processed food, high fructose corn syrup, or the decrease in home cooking alone.” Smith goes on to say that this all contributes to “a national health profile that’s less than ideal.”

“Less than ideal”? Now, there is a vast understatement. The number of people who are obese is truly shocking. And, let me add, the obesity problem includes people in the professional health field as well. It is so disturbing a trend that the International Herald Tribune had a front-page article about American obesity.

How about entertaining the notion that there should be some discipline, some self-control in eating habits? One could blame fast food, the lack of activity or the fact that too many just plain don’t feel like cooking a healthy meal at home when McDonald’s is just around the corner and it doesn’t cost a lot. Why not a huge triple-decker burger, a large pile of French fries, a super-size sugary Coke — all to be completed with a chocolate shake ? Easier than cooking at home and feeding the family properly.

Eating correctly, caring about what you eat, avoiding what is not good for you and exercising portion control is a habit. Pollan’s book, among other things, speaks to that. It seems as though Nicola Smith is making excuses for people’s obesity, which in reality is basically a stunning lack of responsibility and discipline in their eating habits. No one makes these people obese except themselves. Though he doesn’t address this specifically, Pollan is speaking to how to try to consume food that is better for us. Could it be that those who are grossly overweight are looking to put blame for it elsewhere?

Nancy Parker



Book Review: Let Them Eat Whole Foods; Pollan Preaches to the Converted, But What About the Poor, and Non-Believers?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Michael Pollan hasn’t been the only writer to bring attention to the follies of industrial agriculture, an oxymoron if there ever were one, but he is arguably the most influential, much as Rachel Carson exemplified the ethos of the environmental movement when she wrote Silent Spring. Cooked, Pollan’s latest exploration of the intersection between food, science and culture, shows him …