October 18, 2004

The American paradox

All the buzz about the New York Times Magazine article on George W. Bush's certainty might win more readers for an article about eating published in the same magazine.

After describing the American habit of continually pursuing one new dietary obsession after another, Michael Pollan writes:

If this volatility strikes you as unexceptionable, you might be interested to know that there are other cultures that have been eating more or less the same way for generations, and there are peoples who still rely on archaic criteria like, oh, taste and tradition to guide them in their eating decisions. You might also be interested to know that some of the cultures that set their culinary course by the lights of pleasure and habit rather than nutritional science are actually healthier than we are -- that is, suffer a lower incidence of diet-related health troubles. The ''French paradox'' is the most famous such case, though it's worth keeping in mind the French don't regard the matter as a paradox at all; we Americans resort to that word simply because the French experience -- a population of wine-swilling cheese eaters with lower rates of heart disease and obesity?! -- confounds our orthodoxy about food. Maybe what we should be talking about is an American paradox: that is, a notably unhealthy people obsessed by the idea of eating healthily.

I love America. But I wish the faddish diet crazes like Atkins would just stop, already. Give me a crusty loaf of ciabatta and some extra virgin olive oil for dipping. I'm hungry!

Posted by Carey at October 18, 2004 07:45 PM
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