The common argument in both Pollan’s and Steingraber’s essays is that the food sources consumed by humans are contaminated by pollutants or chemicals in an industrialized society. Steingraber mentions the fact that human breast milk contains a significant amount of “persistent organic pollutants (POPs)” (932). In fact, the high levels of contamination found in breast milk has allowed it to gain the reputation as being the “most contaminated of all human foods” (Steingraber 932). Steingraber mentioned the fact that researchers have identified “200 different chemical contaminants in the milk of U.S. mothers,” for instance, including DDT and PCB (933). DDT happens to be the most problematic of all of these contaminants and is the “most widespread contaminant in human milk around the world” (Steingraber 933). Steingraber implies in her essay that these chemicals are absorbed by the human body from the atmosphere. Pollan explains in his essay that the corn-fed diet that U.S. cattle dine on can potentially affect the immune system of the persons who consume the meat of these animals. This is because the corn grown to feed these animals is sprayed with pesticides made from “diesel fuel” and other petroleum products (Pollan 959). In addition, the writer explains that corn-fed meat is less healthy for human beings compared to grass-fed meat because it contains “more saturated fats and less omega fatty acids” (Pollan 951). Furthermore, the corn-fed cows (which are often sick from eating corn) are given antibiotics which critics of the practice argue directly leads to the “evolution of new antibiotic-resistant superbugs” if consumed on a continuous basis (Pollan 954). To conclude, both writers illustrate the contamination of human food sources in order to bring awareness to the importance of limiting the amount of pollutants used by industries so that the food sources can be safer and healthier to consume.
Pollan, Michael. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau. Ed. Bill Kibben. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2008, 948-960. Print.
Steingraber, Sandra. “Having Faith.” American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau. Ed. Bill Kibben. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2008. 929-938. Print.