This sums up my views on food and nutrition, and I'd have to say Pollan has influenced my eating habits more than any other food writer. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Sauron's posting about intermittent fasting has piqued my curiosity. I found this link about it. Has anyone else done anything like this? As far as I understand it, this is what the a regular Wed / Fri fast actually ought to look like if one is concerned about such matters.
If you read his stuff carefully you will see a big overlap of agreement between him and Taubes and the others.
For example, he says, "Don't eat anything you see advertised". That's a great rule of thumb
He blames carbs for the increase of obesity
He understands that saturated fat does not make you fat nor does it promote hear disease.
He is grossed out by the Beef industry, as we all should be and the lack of quality in factory raised beef.
Therefore, he recommends a plant based diet, plants as your main dish, locally grown if possible.
However, he has said good things about places like Polyface Farms that produce grass fed beef, chicken and eggs. Factory raised beef is inefficient and environmentally bad which is a big part of his objection. Grass based farms that raise beef are environmentally sound.
He understands that grass fed beef is good for you but doesn't seem to think it is available to a large enough extent, hence the advice to eat plants mainly, avoid sugar and refined carbs and all highly processed food. He wants you to avoid factory raised meat.
Slight differences.. all these people seem to be reaching similar conclusions.
There are a lot of important nuances that are you glossing over. Pollan in general is against over-consumption. I just don't see that in a lot of more paleo-leaning writers. I personally am all for meat, but as Pollan suggests it should be a side dish. I make meat once a week as a sort of Sunday dinner, but it is just a small component of the meal that is filled with roasted veggies, a garden salad etc. During the week I have just a little bit of pickled herring. On holidays I'll eat some salo or blood sausage. From what I can tell this is a responsible and sustainable diet. It just isn't realistic to feed the world population on the Paleo-diet. You just aren't going to be able to feed a metropolis meat three times a day unless you have factory farmed animals. I much prefer the alternative of eating high quality meat and wild caught fish once a week rather than garbage everyday.
You said that Pollan blames obesity on high carbs. Re-read the linked article. He blames it on the US government refusing to recommend reduced consumption. Being opposed to processed foods and empty carbs is not the same thing as being a paleo / atkins style anti-carb dieter. Pollan likes potatoes, bread, rice, etc. Within a proper diet carbs and starches are fine. What it seems that most paleo proponents don't seem to grasp is that say pickled herring on rye bread or a brown rice and lentil soup is not the same as gorging on twinkies.
But at the end of the day you end up with close to the same recommendations. Avoid sugar and refined carbs. Avoid highly processed foods
( "Don't eat any food you see advertised") and get your carbs from vegetables.
Any diet that gets you to avoid sugar and highly processed foods will do you good, a lot of good. The next question is then what is optimal..
If you read Paleo-Weston Price liturature you will see a strong commitment to raising animals exclusively on their natural diet, in the case of beef on grass. I have seen Pollan on youtubes tip his hat to this.
His solution is to eat less meat. Our solution is to eat grass fed meat as much as you can which is ..in fact.. environmentally sound. In that way you can eat the optional diet for humans and be environmentally efficient. Pollan is ten years behind on this point but if you follow his dietary advice to will be 1000X better off than with the standard Western Diet. IMHO
Poly Face Farm is a good example of grass based farming of livestock.
Here is a great youtube with Joe Salitan, the owner/farmer of Polyface.
Polyface farms has been called the most productive acres in all of the Shenandoah Valley . This grass based farm is five times more productive than any other farm in the area. He gives the numbers is part two. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHkIUcOB2vAhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tKvkehHsOE&feature=relmfu
Several more parts. Click on them if interested.