Listening to Michael Pollan being interviewed about his new book, “Food Rules”, is a little bit like listening to the suicide prevention expert talking someone down off a high ledge. His straightforward delivery is soothing and elemental. He is a relentless critic of industrialized food and government subsidized monoculture which creates moutains of high fructose corn syrup that ends up in just about everything we eat. His lessons are very simple and “Food Rules” is short and might take all of an hour to read.
The English relationship to food in the 18th century was about having enough to eat which is aptly displayed in William Hogarth’s painting, “The Gate of Calais” which shows a huge side of beef being delivered to the English inn on the shoreline while emaciated Frenchmen look on in envy. The French called the English, “roast-boeufs”, a name the English adored. Today, 250 years later, the English countryside is dotted with “carveries” restaurants devoted to meat eaters and principally, roast beef. My own first memory of British food goes back to August of 1962 when my mother told my brother and me in Brown’s Hotel restaurant, “Boys, you don’t have to eat the vegetables in this country.”
My sister-in-law, Susan Allport wrote a book called, “The Queen of Fats”, which is about the dearth of Omega-3 fatty acids in our diets. Omega-3’s are the good fatty acids which are proven to have multiple health benefits. Her and Pollan’s book(s) are, I believe, the necessary forays against government subsidized agriculture which will probably never cease to be. However, if people can be encouraged to eat wisely, maybe all that high fructose corn syrup can be left to wither on the vine.