Quote: “In effect, we’re washing the whole nation’s salad in one big sink.” Michael Pollan in the Sunday New York Times Magazine.
Figure of Speech: epiphonema (eh-pih-fo-NEE-ma), the memorable summary. From the Greek, meaning “sound out upon.”
Last month, 200 Americans got sick from E. coli bacteria in packaged raw spinach. Michael Pollan explains why in a rousing figure of thought that sums up an issue in a memorable way. The epiphonema usually follows a detailed argument, and it does in Pollan’s case. “The way we farm and the way we process our food, both of which have been industrialized and centralized over the last few decades, are endangering our health,” he says.
Spinach is a good example. The factory where the bacteria originated washes 26 million salad servings each week, mixing greens gathered from a variety of sources. One dirty leaf can spoil the whole bunch.
Figaro prefers to buy his greens from farmers he knows personally. That way he can show up if he gets sick. And no one wants to see Figaro sick.
Snappy Answer: “That must give Paul Newman delusions of grandeur.”