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Ch. 6 - The consumer: a republic of fat

#31: Oct. - Dec. 2006 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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Ch. 6 - The consumer: a republic of fat

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Please discuss Chapter 6 in this thread.
MadArchitect

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Re: Ch. 6 - The consumer: a republic of fat

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Pollan's references to the "Alcoholic Republic" were surprising. I think we're used to thinking of prohibition as a very conservative, repressive attempt on the part of a Puritanical minority to legislate morality. Pollan's review of the events leading up to the passage of Prohibition law made me realize that there might actually have been good social cause for some form of control. And it points to the consequences of economic circumstances. The easy way to dispose of all that excess corn, and get around the inelasticity of agricultural demand, was to convert it all into alcohol. And with so much surplus whiskey, the price of getting completely blitzed on booze fell to almost nothing. The economic situation led almost directly to the legal situation. Prohibition, in that sense, was almost as much a form of economic supression as it was a form of moral legislation. Fascinating stuff, and I'll definitely be looking into Pollan's source for this information W.J. Rorabaugh's "The Alcoholic Republic".
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Loricat
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Re: Ch. 6 - The consumer: a republic of fat

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I know. I found that chapter surprising as well. (I was lying in bed, reading, and just handed the book to my husband "Read the first couple pages of this chapter!") Does that mean that there's hope? That we're in the first stages of the next Prohibition-like reversal?Years ago, I embraced the visual image of a pendulum to help me 'see' the swing of personal & public opinion...The idea that we go from one extreme to the other, before (hopefully) finding a place of balance in the middle. A teen goes from drinking nothing, to bingeing in the 20s, to (hopefully) finding a happy medium of a few social drinks with friends in the 30s, 40s, etc. Corn whiskey glut, Prohibition, now a set of laws and social behaviour that is calmer (a problem on individual levels instead of societal). Is a 'pendulum swing' possible in this processed food issue, and how would we recognize it? How long would it take? "All beings are the owners of their deeds, the heirs to their deeds." Loricat's Book NookCelebrating the Absurd
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Re: Ch. 6 - The consumer: a republic of fat

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Loricat: Does that mean that there's hope? That we're in the first stages of the next Prohibition-like reversal?I don't know that it would even be necessary to legislate restraint in this case. Based on Pollan's discussion of corn subsidies in previous chapters, it looks to me like we could go a long way towards dismantling the hegemony corn has on our national diet if we simply kicked out some of the articifial ecnomic props we've had in place the last 30 or 40 years. That should give us some economic motivation for diversifying out diets.Corn whiskey glut, Prohibition, now a set of laws and social behaviour that is calmer (a problem on individual levels instead of societal).Alcohol still seems like a problem in America, though. I'm pretty sure Europeans look askance at our relationship to intoxicating beverages. I've long thought that one reason for our high rate of alcoholism and alcohol-related traffic accidents is that our consumption laws make our introduction to alcohol either abrupt (ie. you don't drink at all until you're 21, and there's basically no one to look out for you because you're already considered an adult) or subversive (ie. you drink as a teen, in part as an act of rebellion, and start forming bad habits right away). I know that at least some European nations set the legal drinking age at 15 or 16, with the result that most teens in that country are taught when they're still dependants how to drink without being irresponsible about it.
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