Food and the Media

Last night Michael Pollan held a live video webcast on Facebook. I had just picked up my CSA meat share and stopped by my parents’ for dinner just in time to tune in. The purpose of the webcast was for Michael to take and respond to people’s questions regarding his recent film Food Inc. and about food in general.

Seizing the opportunity to to participate, I asked Michael about his thoughts regarding major media like the Food Network and their responsibility in promoting healthy food. Fortunately he remarked that it was a very good question and cited examples of TV shows on the Food Network where the shows and hosts promoted food that is woefully unhealthy for people to eat and also without any real consideration where the food came from and how it was processed. He believed that the media could do a better job at promoting healthy eating habits while still being true to their mission.

This isn’t to say that food television shows or the Food Network for that matter should change format and start preaching better eating habits. They have great television and feature shows that are entertaining and instructive showing viewers what they want to see. Individuals have their own responsibility when it comes to food choices and how they live their lives.

The webcast did make me think about this very question and its answer. The media has great influence over what we think about and how we view our food. Viewers often imitate what they see in an effort to recreate recipes or make dishes of their own. The good news is that Americans are becoming more concerned about where their food comes from and its impact on the environment and society and their health. Overtime media will evolve to reflect this and it will be easier to broadcast TV shows promoting healthier eating. The question is, should they be more proactive and try to affect change?

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