Monday, July 20, 2009

Reductionist?

Pollan carefully criticizes science throughout In Defense of Food. Primarily his criticism is of reductionism. Pollan points out that reductionism has led us to investigate the parts rather than the whole. We look at nutrients rather than whole foods when interested in the mechanics of health. I believe this is an important observation and one that probably ought to help us recognize that we must view eating as a complex system. It would probably be unwise, however, to view this important observation as a reason for a wholesale retreat from reductionism. Certainly, most of the arguments in favor of a whole foods diet and rejecting a processed diet in this text are based on reductionist claims. It is very difficult to investigate a mechanism without reductionist methodology. Perhaps Pollan is just suggesting we recognize the limits of reductionist methodology. It is important, however, to recognize the limits of correlations as well. It is impossible to compare the health of people who eat western foods with those that do not, because those people differ in many other ways as well. Even studies of those who ate a non-western diet and then adopted a western diet, are also studying a people who have adopted a western way of life as well. I do not doubt myself that diet is a key component in this correlation, but we must recognize the limits of the inquiry. Perhaps the best inquiries consider parts in context and draw on the strengths of several ways of knowing to answer questions. Pollan has done just this in, In Defense of Food. Thus, I am left with the impression that interdisciplinary collaboration rather than interdisciplinary criticism will have the most profound impact on the way we come to address the problems we face today.

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18 Comments:

Anonymous Berth "low carb diet plans" Meryson said...

Awesome post. People will surely like this.. Very impressive..

All the best.

October 31, 2010 at 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Libby said...

I agree- its an impossibility to compare those on Western and Asian diets unless using a controlled group which would be very difficult.
I do see many Asians now living in NZ, and adopting a more western diet carrying more weight than their counterparts living back in Asia

May 15, 2011 at 3:11 AM  
Anonymous DiabeticDiet said...

Regardless of whether you are an American or not it is important to not only to eat right, but also when and how much to eat.

May 31, 2011 at 3:46 AM  
Anonymous gold coins said...

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and I am glad that I finally came here! This for sharing and keep up the good work...
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June 2, 2011 at 8:35 AM  
Anonymous cv writing in uk said...

I agree that it is not only what you eat, but the quality that is important, especially for weight loss. If we all halved the amount we eat each day I'm sure that it would be adequate for our nutritional needs.

July 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous best cosmetic surgery in london said...

A reductionist diet is a good idea, especially for children and the growing obesity problem. We should all consider the amount that we eat.

July 4, 2011 at 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Your Rhinoplasty Surgeon said...

Put simply, you become what you eat

May 29, 2014 at 2:17 PM  
Anonymous osias05 said...

great blog about diet reduction Thank you for sharing.

June 10, 2014 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous LC said...

Yea we need to understand the meaning of portion control and moderation

June 13, 2014 at 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Scott K. Thompson said...

I think the diet is a direct correlation, but you hit the nail on the head when you said it's impossible to compare the health of people who eat western foods with those who don't and how people are very different.

June 24, 2014 at 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Raghu Pillai said...

one should eat in small portions at regular intervals. I feel personally that the reductionist approach helps fight obesity

July 25, 2014 at 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Breast Augmentation Surgeon Boise said...

I totally agree with Pollan and your view on reductionism in today's diet. Western foods are necessary in the fast paced life we live, especially if people continue to share a mindset of indifference towards the food they eat. Adopting a different, more european food culture may help in different ways.
Thanks for the post it was a great read for being fairly short!

August 5, 2014 at 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Hanna Yuliatin said...

Yeah, I extremely agree that you become what you eat. So, be careful and think twice if we will eat..

October 21, 2014 at 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Glen Smith said...

Yeah, its correct. Always awesome articles here on this site. Thanks.

November 30, 2014 at 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Wilder said...

Diet is definitely related. I agree with Dr. Scott. Nobody can compare the health of people living different parts of the world.

January 18, 2015 at 6:14 AM  
Anonymous Jerome said...

Thanks for the updates

January 20, 2015 at 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Plastic Surgery Thailand said...

Hello Vincent,
Yup you are right whether we are adopting western good or not we are just trying to see the nutrition value not the whole food. I liked the content and enjoyed as well because Food is the topic which anyone can enjoy easily.
Thanks

February 4, 2015 at 5:05 PM  
Anonymous How do you get rid of cellulite said...

Seems like a processed diet leads to more health issues like clogged arteries, cellulite on thighs and more serious issues.

March 1, 2015 at 1:47 PM  

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