Michael Pollan definitely introduced a new element to food writing when in 2000 he began to write about the social and ethical issues surrounding the way we eat. Here’s a good overview of the explosion of such writing that followed the publication of Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. What’s particularly good in the article is that the writer doesn’t approach the topic with any agenda I can detect, and so he does a good job of pointing out puzzles and inconsistencies in all the various points of view.
The biggest flaw in the article is one that is so common that there ought to be a name for it, an ending that makes itself weak by trying to finish strong and overreaching. The last paragraph has the food editor of a newspaper claiming that the grass-roots interest in non-industrial food is growing, and the last sentence quotes her as saying “When it’s in the supermarkets and the soccer moms are talking about it, you know it’s the start of something big.” Well, no, you don’t; plenty of things that soccer moms buzzed about over the years went nowhere at all.