In Defense of Food: Cooking For Others

Nutritionalism and its Place in Food Culture Today

Nutritionalism. The term isn't originally Pollans and was coined in 2002 by an Australian scientist by the name of Gyorgy Scrinis. He was discussing the role of margarine as the ultimate culminations of nutrition science and the ever changing food trends that now play a huge part of our daily lives, cholestol one year, transfats the next. Pollan has taken this term and essentially defined it, "we should understand and engage with food and our bodies in terms of their nutritional and chemical constituents and requirements–––the assumption being that this is all we need to understand." This idealogy can also be thought of as a reductionist way of living: all we need are the nutrients, not the food, but, as has become apparent with a mulititude of studies, food is more then the sum of its nutrient parts. You simply need all to get all. The effect this has had on the American food culture is that now we feel as if we need expert help to eat or drink anything because, if they are full of invisible yet apparently very important "things," we cannot possibly understand it. But what caused this huge shift? the American food industry, a veritable entity that controls the way we eat adn the way that we think about food. This same industry has sparked a recent shift, a shift from what Pollan would call "mom" (our food culture), to imitation food and nutritionalism. This commercial conglomerate essentially controls what the average American can or cannot eat, and its effects can be traced back to the 1960's and 1970's, just when people and the government became intrested in what we ate. Evidence of this ever growing entity can be found everywhere in the American food culture. First and foremost is the labeling on foods, primarily the list of ingredients and the percentages on the side. Because of this nutritionalism feeling that we cannot do anything on our own, all food has been broken down into a set of nutrient percentages such as cholestrol, saturated fat, sodium, and potassium, Also tags such as healthy, and lowers your cholestrol have been tacked onto all big industry products ever changing as the nutritional tides go in and out. I attempted to exemplify all this in the presentation of my menu, and the way I cooked my meal.