The Columbia Journalism Review attempts to connect the dots with a huge, chewy overview of food writing. “New Grub Street” tackles the recent disagreement between The Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, and goes on to try to make sense of the ethical arguments put forth by today’s food writers. Christopher Shea name-checks everyone from Kim Severson to Bill McKibben. What he finds is a deep thicket of tangled belief systems.
Weighing competing claims by the new food writers and their polemical opponents can be just as mind-boggling as reading the science pages to get a handle on basic nutritional information.
Along the way, Shea debunks food miles, calls out Pollan on his antiscience bias, and—as we mentioned earlier—explores The Economist’s claim that a wholesale switch to organic food production will actually hasten environmental descruction.
If you’ve fallen behind on your reading, this is the article that will help you keep up your end of the food ethics dinner party conversation.