Home & Lifestyle, Wellness, Food

Confront Barriers to Intentional Eating

Michael Pollan

Lesson time 16:18 min

Michael demystifies intentional eating. He also walks you through how systemic injustices invade our food systems and why they need to be addressed through government policies.

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Topics include: Recognizing Food Deserts • Expense: Eating Well Shouldn't Be Elitist • Difficulty: It's Easier Than You Think • Hopelessness: Why Bother? • Complexity: Dealing With Tricky Cases • Perfectionism: Baby Steps Are Fine


[MUSIC PLAYING] - So eating intentionally, it does take more work, more thought. My premise, though, here is that it's well worth doing and it's not as hard as you think it is and it's not as burdensome. I think it's really important for you to think about it as an opportunity. So in this lesson, we're going to confront directly the barriers people might have, that you might have, to intentional eating, the complexities that you might run into, the expense, and the sheer difficulty of eating intentionally and how to overcome those barriers. Let me start out by saying that there are people in America who face genuine and huge barriers to intentional eating. There are marginalized communities across the country that are forced to eat more poorly than many of us do. And there are reasons for this. And it's not simply their inability to afford better food, but those communities are targeted with fast food. That's where all the fast food chains go. So a food desert is a place where it's very hard to get access to fresh food. It might be an inner city where there's only a bodega, a corner store where you can get mostly processed food, but big supermarkets have redlined these neighborhoods and they're not there. Food apartheid is another expression that talks about the division that there are areas that are well stocked with good food and areas that are starved of good food. And people who live in those areas struggle and they struggle with higher rates of obesity, they struggle with higher rates of chronic disease and diabetes, and that's a measure of the diet in those places. And so people in this situation who want to exercise control over their diet, who want to eat healthy, are really up against it. And as a society, we have to take steps to make it easier for people in that situation to eat well. What I think is one of the most important things we need to address as a society is agricultural policy. Basically, to make healthy foods less expensive and junk food more expensive. How do we do this? Well, there's a lot of policy ideas on offer, but one is to subsidize fresh produce. Right now we subsidize corn and soybeans and some other crops that are the raw materials of processed food and meat. So why don't we subsidize broccoli and potatoes? I think as a society we can make those judgments. Do we want to subsidize junk food or do we want to subsidize fresh produce? I think that's a Democratic decision we should make. We have to make it easier to eat well. [MUSIC PLAYING] Something I hear all the time is that eating well, eating ethically, eating for health is more expensive, and therefore it's an elitist pursuit. And I'd like to-- like, let's take a hard look at that. Is that true? I don't think it needs to be. Assuming you don't live in a food desert and are earning a true living wage, you can find ways to afford great food. Yes, it's more expensive to buy organic than conventional. Yes, grass-fed meat costs mo...

About the Instructor

For more than 30 years, award-winning journalist Michael Pollan has explored the intersection of humans and nature—including groundbreaking probes of the food we eat. Now the NYT bestselling author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” teaches you how to ditch fad diets and eat with intention. From following the food chain to fixing dinner, learn to make choices that reflect what’s important to you.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Michael Pollan

Acclaimed author Michael Pollan teaches you what he’s spent decades researching: how to eat more ethically, healthfully, and sustainably.

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