What is Charlotte Allen arguing?

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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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  1. Avatar C., Esq. says:

    I am dumbstruck at how little Charlotte Allen appears to know about food politics.

    First, locovores didn’t rejoice at the sharp rise in grocery prices over
    the last several months, especially in terms of dairy in eggs. The
    sharp increase in the price of milk is due to the recession and the
    decrease in part in discretionary spending on milk-products like
    cheese and ice cream. The increase in the price of milk did not
    translate to the price dairy farmers were paid per hundred weight of
    milk and as such, many small family owned dairies were pushed out of
    business, especially in New England where herd size is drastically
    smaller than the midwest and as such a loss is harder to absorb. No
    locovore I know of is happy about less local produce in the
    marketplace.

    Second, I don’t think Michael Pollan is anti-snack and fast food per
    se, I think he is against a food delivery system that makes snack and
    fast food the de facto available food for the impoverished. As Ms.
    Allen rightly points out, most fresh food is more expensive, but
    moreover, it’s simply unavailable to the urban poor who often live in
    food deserts — when was the last time you saw a Safeway or a Shaws in
    a blighted downtown area? So-called elitists like Pollan want to
    change the food delivery system so that the urban poor have an
    opportunity to purchase fresh food. Yes, a head of lettuce or a pound
    of apples is more expensive short term than a bag of potato chips.
    But what about the long term health costs of living with a diet that
    consists of processed carbohydrates and grease? Surely Ms. Allen can
    see that encouraging good eating habits drives down health costs.

    A quick google search did not yield anything about Pollan v. Haagen
    Dazs other than to say that HD had committed to making its ice creams
    with no more than 5 natural ingredients after Pollan suggested that
    readers not buy products with more than 5 ingredients. Pollan has
    urged readers to be suspicious of advertising for food since most food
    that is advertised is processed. I have no idea what she’s talking
    about, but I’m not convinced she knows what she’s talking about
    either. Perhaps if she actually picked up the book she was
    criticizing and read it she’d have a better idea of what Pollan’s all
    about.

    As for the Depression definition of “poverty” and its relation to
    modern foodies, the difference between putting together a table made
    from orange crates and relying on a high calorie/high fat diet because
    its all you can afford is that one will kill you. Or at the very
    least set you up for an expensive and debilitating disease that if you
    are participating in some government health program (CHIPS, Medicare,
    Medicaid, etc) the taxpayers end up paying a higher price for.

    Ms. Allen can whinge all she wants about “food choice” but the reality
    is for many urban poor there is no choice. She drew a comparison
    between the locovore movement and Marie Antoinette that may better
    applied to herself. After all, isn’t she really saying, “Let them eat
    Haagen-Dazs?”Report

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