Food, Home & Lifestyle, Wellness

Rethink Your Relationship With Food

Michael Pollan

Lesson time 16:52 min

Michael describes the Western diet, the American paradox, and the values you can express through what you eat. He also teaches members how to plant seeds—literally and metaphorically.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The American Paradox and Western Diet • Decide What Matters to You • Tackle the Injustice in Our Food System • Plant Some Seeds


[MUSIC PLAYING] - In this chapter, you're going to learn about values when it comes to eating, and what they are and how to express them in your choices. You're going to learn about the American Paradox, and you're going to learn about the Western diet, which is the way most of us eat and is really at the root of many of our eating problems. What we're hoping to do here is you're going to plant some seeds-- seeds of change in the way you think about food and the way you make food choices, seeds that I think have the potential to change your life in really positive ways. [MUSIC PLAYING] We've been hearing for years about the French Paradox, the fact that here is a country where people eat incredibly rich, fattening, indulgent food, washed down with red wine. And nevertheless, they are healthier, by several measures, than Americans are. So the American Paradox is a term that I've coined to describe the opposite of the French Paradox. The American Paradox is we stress about food continuously-- should we eat this, should we not eat this, the latest diet trend. And yet, despite all that obsessing about food, we are some of the least healthy people on the planet when it comes to food. I think as Americans, we struggle with the fact that we don't have or we haven't had a really stable, deeply-rooted food culture. We consist of immigrants from many different cultures, and no one of them came to dominate our food culture. But there is one diet that reliably makes humans sick, and that is the Western diet. The Western diet is the term that nutritionists used to describe basically the way we eat. And when I say we, I mean people in America, but also now increasingly people all over the world. It's characterized by lots of sugar, refined flours, oil-- cooking oils, vegetable oils-- lots of meat, and very little whole grain, very little fruits and vegetables. And that way of eating is closely associated with-- no coincidence-- the Western diseases, a term also coined by nutritionists. These are obesity, type 2 diabetes, several types of cancer that are linked to diet, and cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke. One of the most profound changes to the American food supply in the last few years has been the amount of sugar that we're eating. The average American is eating 35 pounds of high fructose corn syrup each year, and that's only one kind of sugar. Put them all together, and you've got 15% of the American diet consisting of added sugars. And because of all the sugar consumption, it's no accident that childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 30 years. And type 2 diabetes has more than tripled among adults in two decades. This is a disease that takes years off your life, that costs tens of thousands of a year to treat, that can lead to blindness and amputation, and it is entirely preventable. I'm talking about type 2 diabetes, not type 1. Simply by losing weight, you can return your numbers back t...

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.

Explore the Class
Sign Up