Laugh or Cry? Pollan and Moss Face Up to a Challenge

The [New York Times] Dining section had brought together Mr. Pollan (whose latest book, “Cooked,” was published last week) and Mr. Moss to make a tasty, reasonably healthy lunch. But there was a stipulation: they had to use ingredients that could be found at just about any grocery store. There would be no farmers’ market produce, no grass-fed beef or artisanal anything.

In what world do these guys live?  On 1 April 2013, the United States had a population of 315,773,000.  These two, at least as reported in the Times, appear to be unaware of how the other 315,772,998 (or at least the vast majority of them) live.

Pollan and Moss are prepared to accept the Times’ preposterous assumption that making a tasty, “reasonably” healthy meal from a US grocery store, as most Americans do, is mission impossible.

Yet the fact is that the average American grocery store carries a range of produce and foodstuffs from far and wide beyond the imaginings of Louis XIV or Alexander the Great or any other king or emperor in the past. And that abundance has ended the problems of chronic malnutrition and deficiency diseases that plagued most past societies. True, some consumers suffer the diseases of abundance, not something to be made light of, but even so isn’t abundance better than scarcity?

If you follow the link, you will see a photo of Pollan and Moss deep in thought as they “navigate” the supermarket shelves. Making a simple trip to the grocery store and the preparation of a meal for two seem so difficult and dangerous hardly seems the way to persuade people to accept their belief that home cooking is the way to get healthy, tasty, virtuous food.  If this is the food movement, it appears to be in reverse gear.

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11 thoughts on “Laugh or Cry? Pollan and Moss Face Up to a Challenge

  1. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com

    I buy most of my meat (organic, pastured, grassfed) at an independent little butcher shop or natural foods store, but I can find a few such meats (often just chicken breasts) at my local chain grocery store. And over time they have come to carry quite a few organic foods, so it’s easier than Pollan and Moss found it for me to make a meal to my standards from chain grocery store items. Though I won’t buy or cook “conventional” meats, I don’t make an issue of it when dining out in other people’s homes. I like to do what I can personally without going all judgmental on people who think differently at this time.

    Reply
    1. Rachel Laudan Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Jean. And your blog looks so clean and cool. On this issue, my worry is that for all the problems with food in America, it’s still the best the world has known. I say that as someone who has spent the last ten years studying food history. And to tell people that it’s so iffy is misleading and discourages people from enjoying preparing and eating their food with confidence.

      Reply
  2. Peter Hertzmann

    I previously had formed a dislike for both of these men, and reading the article only increased this notion. Pink slime was slander journalism by Moss, and no attempt has been made to get past the catchy label. And Pollan seems to think that because he rants against factory food production, he is an expert in cooking. Every time i hear a description of his cooking i want to wretch.

    Reply
    1. Rachel Laudan Post author

      Agreed, Moss’s attack the meat industry by way of “pink slime” was/is a disgrace. And I’m not about to prepare his meals. But more than these specifics, it seems to me irresponsible of the NY Times to give such prominence to such food commentators while failing to do any serious coverage of farming or the food industry.

      Reply
    1. Rachel Laudan Post author

      Beats me. That’s why the challenge is such a tough one. Damn near mission impossible, I’d say.

      Reply
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  4. C.M. Mayo

    Funny, as I read that NYT article about the two male experts, in all seriousness, navigating the grocery and then cooking (more seriousness), I kept thinking how my grandma would be, like, totally rolling her eyes. Now let’s reverse genders for a moment. Does one really think the august NYT would have run that same article and so prominently about two women food experts?

    Reply
    1. Rachel Laudan Post author

      Hello Catherine, good to hear from you. Your grandma would certainly be rolling her eyes. And one has to wonder why the NYT brings such odd and unbalanced standards to its food section.

      Reply

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