from the world's big
Jonathan Safran Foer Takes on Michael Pollan
Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestselling novels Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Here I Am, and a book of non-fiction, Eating Animals. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foer was also included in The New Yorker magazine's "20 Under 40" list of writers. Foer attended Princeton University in New Jersey, where he studied Philosophy. It was while at Princeton that Foer was able to take an introductory writing course under the tutelage of novelist Joyce Carol Oates. Oates noted Foer's talent at an early stage, informing him that he had "that most important of writerly qualities, energy." Of Oates, Foer later said:
Jonathan Safran Foer is the author of the bestselling novels Everything Is Illuminated, named Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and the winner of numerous awards, including the Guardian First Book Prize, the National Jewish Book Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Prize, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Here I Am, and a book of non-fiction, Eating Animals. Foer was one of Rolling Stone's "People of the Year" and Esquire's "Best and Brightest." Foer was also included in The New Yorker magazine's "20 Under 40" list of writers.
Foer attended Princeton University in New Jersey, where he studied Philosophy. It was while at Princeton that Foer was able to take an introductory writing course under the tutelage of novelist Joyce Carol Oates. Oates noted Foer's talent at an early stage, informing him that he had "that most important of writerly qualities, energy." Of Oates, Foer later said:"She was the first person to ever make me think I should try to write in any sort of serious way. And my life really changed after that."
Question: Aside from the idea of “table fellowship,” is there anything else you and Michael Pollan disagree over?
Jonathan Safran Foer: Well I think Michael Pollan is not only the most important, but the most sensible food writer, perhaps in American history. And it’s true that I disagree with him about certain things, but in the general scheme of things, extraordinarily small.
So as you were suggesting, one thing I disagree with him about is this notion of table fellowship, which basically states that there’s a good that comes from eating with other people. Eating what they make. I completely agree. The question is; how valuable is that? And is there anything that’s more valuable than that? And also, if you were going to be a conscientious eater, you know, Michael Pollan advocates eating an ethical meat, meat that comes from small farms. How does that figure into table fellowship? So let’s say somebody invites you over for dinner and you say, “I’d love to come. In advance let me tell you, I’m a vegetarian.” You know, in 2010 that’s not a shocking statement and it’s almost never a statement that requires explanation. Most people say, all right, fine. And they cook something else. Maybe it’s not what they had in mind, maybe it will require them to open a cookbook to figure out what they can make as an alternative, but really by no measure is it a big deal.
If you say instead, “Thanks so much, I’d love to come. Just so you know, I only eat meat that isn’t factory farmed.” You know, that comes from small farms, family farms. That all of a sudden really does create a situation and you’re going to have to probably send the person to a different link to different websites just so they can figure out what you’re talking about and then instruct them where to buy this food, which is almost certainly going to be much more expensive then what they were going to prepare. So if the question is table fellowship and this notion of the social bonds that are forged across a table, to me it seems the thing that promotes the most table fellowship is just being upfront about vegetarianism.
And the other thing I would say is, there might be some discomforts that we have to face, you know. It may be that there are going to be situations that we don’t eat the food that someone’s cooking, and it might be that the conversation that surrounds that decision that will inspire a fight or an argument at least. But I think we’re past the point of hiding behind politeness or discomfort. You know, we’re looking at a future of skyscrapers filled with animals. We’re looking at a future of an ocean with no wild fish. Fishery scientists say that in the year 2048, if we continue to fish like we are now and consume fish like we do now, there won’t be wild fish. And that sounds like a precise number. It’s not 2050, it’s 2048. It’s because it’s based on very precise calculations. We know that antibiotics won’t be useful for us in the future if we continue feeding animals 25 million pounds of antibiotics a year while humans only get 3 million pounds. Now this is not a future that we want and it’s only going to be avoided if we take a stand.
Recorded on August 26, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller
Safran Foer says Pollan is the most important and sensible food writer in American history, but he disagrees with Pollan over the idea of "table fellowship." "We’re past the point of hiding behind politeness of discomfort," he says.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".