Hippie organic food

Who knew? Hippie organic food is a conservative movement. From this review of Pollin’s new book In Defense of Food:

What’s striking about Pollan’s argument is how fundamentally conservative
it is. Echoing many of Burke’s arguments, Pollan elevates the wisdom of
traditional customs over the relatively puny powers of Western reason. One of
the most powerful of Burke’s conservative arguments has always been an
epistemological one – one concerned with the nature of knowledge. Burke is at
his most persuasive when he’s talking about the limits of human reasoning
powers. Skeptical of our abilities to determine the highest good through
abstract rationality, Burke contends that we should look to the wisdom inherent
in customs and tradition, rather than trying to draw up a brave new world from
scratch. Under this view, tradition isn’t glorified for tradition’s sake.
Rather, tradition is a giant laboratory that provides us insight into what works
and what doesn’t. To Burke, we abandon these traditions at our peril when we opt
for sudden change or revolution. (Admittedly, this view has also been used to
justify longstanding exploitative relations such as slavery). Whether Pollan
intended it or not, Burkean themes like these underpin In Defense of Food,
including skepticism of modernity, the wisdom of customs, and the harms of
sudden change.Notably, Pollan is skeptical about what exactly modern science can
tell us about our diet. One of the book’s big themes is that scientists and
nutritionists simply don’t know all that much about why eating real food–the
sort of food our great grandmothers would recognize as food–helps us.
It’s clear, though, that it does. For that reason, scientists can’t
replicate the benefits of eating real food through vitamin pills or fortified
oat bran or whatever this year’s fad happens to be. There’s something about
eating the food itself that’s inherently beneficial. Indeed, one rule of thumb,
he argues, is to avoid eating anything that has to explain why it’s

In Defense of Food is still high on my list of books to read. I just have to finish Twinkie: Deconstructed first.

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  1. Anne-Marie
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    This is part of what Rod Dreher’s book “Crunchy Cons” was about. Dreher applies the same idea to other fields such as education and housing as well as food. I haven’t read Pollan yet (he’s high on my to-read list, too!), but my impression from reviews is that he articulates his principles more clearly and uses a less obnoxious tone than does Dreher.

  2. The BadgerMum
    Posted September 4, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    The more I read about that book the more I want to read it.

  3. dawn
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Crunchy Cons was great! badgermum, you totally have to read that!

    I have Defense of Food, and started The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I need to get to work, but for now I’m reading Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism which is totally fascinating.

  4. The BadgerMum
    Posted September 5, 2008 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Oh, yes, I have Cruncy Cons — bought it as soon as it came out. One of friends was interviewed for the article he wrote that led to the book, and that was included in the book, too.

    I was referring to Pollan’s Food book. I’ve enjoyed reading reviews and discussions of Dilemma, too.

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