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. "

If I’d consulted my gut (#48), I might not have wound up with my best find, some deli cupcakes boasting a staggering 57 ingredients, including many, many that a third-grader could never pronounce (#7) and things that I couldn’t picture growing in nature (#14).

Instead of eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper (#54), my plan was to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like an emperor and dinner like Galactus, the planet-inhaling monster from The Fantastic Four. I bought the biggest steak I have ever seen. As I pulled into my driveway, I checked my list. Treat meat as a special occasion (#23)? Hah. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well (#27)? Not at this price. I realized that I was going to make my goal with hours to spare. In America, it is incredibly easy to break all of Michael Pollan’s rules. I also realized that I wasn’t feeling particularly good. This wasn’t fun anymore.

And then I saw them. If I’d parked somewhere else, somewhere with more pavement, I’d have been all right, but I was staring at my lawn, and that was my downfall. There they were, poking up above the grass, looking unbelievably verdant in the fading light. Fresh, young dandelion greens. Bursting with vitamins and vitality. Wild foods (#31). Leaves, even (#22)! Growing in healthy soil (#30). Containing not a trace of high-fructose corn syrup (#4). Don’t do it, I told myself. They were absolutely off my diet. But I slipped out of my car and padded across the lawn until I’d found the tenderest greens. Then I plopped down in the grass and began shoveling them into my mouth. What flavor! So sweetly bitter. So alive! I’m sorry, Kellogg’s. I’m sorry, McDonald’s. I tried to convert, but until you figure out that leaf’s secret, you don’t stand a chance.

Rowan Jacobsen’s newest book is American Terroir (Bloomsbury, Aug. 2010). His EatingWell story “…Or Not to Bee” won a 2010 James Beard Award.

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