Info Gluttony

Food Is A Political Act*

Posted in books, politics by echan on May 7, 2009

Although my little black (cardboard-covered) Moleskine is filled with lecture notes from the back end (and to do lists from the front end), I’m notoriously bad at doing write ups of the talks that I attend.  Yesterday, I was at the jam-packed Herbst Theatre to see Michael Pollan talk, and he proved to be an articulate and funny speaker as he outlined our national food goals.

Pollan’s 3-prong plan for improving our national food policy (and thereby for improving our health care policy and national security, and for decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels) is: (1) Ween our food supply off of fossil fuels and resolarize the food supply; (2) restructure our food economy (i.e. stop subsidizing agribusiness to produce cheap food, and instead subsidize farmers to adapt sustainable agricultural practices); and (3) change our culture of food.  Reducing it to these three points does Pollan a great disservice, so I am just going to point you to his own essay outlining these goals.

What I do want to remark upon is that Pollan is one of the few neo-progressives whose writing has already started to change the world that we live in.  When I devoured the Omnivore’s Dilemma, it made me want to give up all corn in my diet for period (Finch, at the time, pointed out that it would be rather difficult, since it meant that I’d have to say bye bye to ketchup). But now, the “death to high fructose corn syrup” movement has gone mainstream, as this year’s trendy additive is sugar.  Without Pollan’s writing, I don’t think this would be the case.  I can think of few other modern writers who have had the same impact as Rachel Carson with Silent Spring.

**

On an unrelated note, but to leave you with something funny, Pollan started off the talk with the line and anecdote, “Farming is almost cool….Not a week goes by where I don’t meet a software engineer who tells me that he just cashed in his options and is buying a farm.”  This is somewhat in line with Pollan’s idea of “open source genetic engineering” where Monsanto doesn’t own the IP to various seeds.

*On Saturday, I attended an AIA session, where one of the speakers announced, “When systems break down, architecture is a political act.”  My takeaway from that and the Pollan talk is that every act is a political act.

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One Response

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  1. josh-n said, on May 7, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Good stuff. I really want to have my own place in the city with my little garden to grow my stuff.


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