Yesterday, over on HuffPost, Michael Pollan wrote the following, in an article titled “‘Food Rules’: A Completely Different Way To Fix The Health Care Crisis”: “Make no mistake: our health care crisis is in large part a crisis of the American diet — roughly three quarters of the two-trillion plus we spend on health care in this country goes to treat chronic diseases, most of which can be prevented by a change in lifestyle, especially diet.”
My response: I strongly disagree. It is a very a mistaken idea. Pervasive? Yes. Dangerous? Sometimes. Mistaken? Definitely.
Of course we should all eat wisely, and yes, I follow all of your rules, plus more of my own. But I’m still disabled by chronic illness.
You are promoting a myth that is employed to debase, demean and dismiss the many people who are chronically ill due to reasons beyond their control. It is very common for chronically ill people to have to endure repeated lectures from well-intentioned friends and family to the effect that if only they did or didn’t eat this or that, they’d be magically cured.
The snake oil of today isn’t coral calcium or whatever the latest food or supplement fad may be, it’s the idea that we just need to get back to basics to cure every modern malady. I understand that you make your living pedaling this idea, but it is hurtful to the people who may have been irreparably damaged on a genetic or cellular level — either by random mutations or by early or long-term exposure to toxic aspects of “modern living.”
In other words, you aren’t gonna cure the effects of “Love Canal” with a bowl of Kashi.
I’ve spent over twenty years trying to cure myself with diets, exercise, and meditation. All are wonderful, noble things, but they are not a panacea. We need to face up to the fact that some people are just unlucky, genetically or otherwise, and we should treat them with the compassion and regard that we too often reserve for cancer patients and the victims of natural disasters.
For some of us, our chronic illness is a very personal disaster that cannot be averted by clean living.
Reference: Pollan M. “Food Rules”: A Completely Different Way To Fix The Health Care Crisis. The Huffington Post. January 4, 2010.
Copyright © 2010 by Candace L. Van Auken. All rights reserved.