I’m Sorry, Michael Pollan

By Rowan Jacobsen, "I’m Sorry, Michael Pollan," September/October 2010

Author Rowan Jacobsen takes on Michael Pollan's "Food Rules."

"I like it when the article contains a large photo of the author. "

I did my research, made my list and went on my shopping run. Then, one bright and hopeful May morning, I told my wife and son to enjoy their tea and yogurt, poured myself a bowl of Froot Loops and popped open a can of Red Bull. I’d chosen Froot Loops because of fond childhood memories of watching them turn my milk a wan pink color, but in fact they violated 19 food rules in one Technicolor bowl, everything from “Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients” (#6)—Froot Loops contain 34—to “Avoid food products that make health claims” (#8). In case you haven’t been eating them recently, you might not know that Froot Loops are now a “Good Source of Fiber,” according to the box, which also makes the rather ambiguous statement “Family life is better when your kids are healthy!” No argument there.

Somehow the sugar-and-caffeine whammy of my breakfast got me so hopped-up that I was hungry a half-hour later—a perfect time to get my fuel from the same place my car does (#57). I zipped off to the convenience store for some Pringles and a Slim Jim. I was feeling good about paying less and eating more (#44), and I certainly wasn’t eating at a table (#58). While I waited for my car to top up, I flipped through the book to see how I was doing.

My eyes fell on #20: “It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.” An unfortunate incident involving a pheasant came to mind, but I knew that wasn’t what Pollan meant, so I headed for a McDonald’s drive-thru and got myself a Big Mac, which I hadn’t had in years. Honestly, it tasted bizarre, but the fries were awesome. Needless to say, I did not eat them slowly (#49). The afternoon was a haze of sweets, sodas and fat-free Pringles.

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