Michael Pollan in Oberlin

Submitted by Susan Miller on Mon, 08/18/2008 - 22:16.
10/28/2008 - 20:00
10/28/2008 - 22:00

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan speaks at Oberlin this fall!

Author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s ManifestoThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, The Botany of Desire; Second Nature; and A Place of My Own.

Worth the drive - especially if we carpool! It's free. Let's go early and see the Allen Memorial Art Museum and eat at Weia Teia.


Finney Chapel
Ohio 58 and Ohio 511 Tappan Square
Oberlin, OH
United States

Pollan's open letter to the next Farmer in Chief

Before we go to hear Pollan in Oberlin at the end of the month, may I encourage you to read his open letter to the president elect - the next Farmer in Chief.

A few choice quotes:

"the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close"

"the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue of national security"

"the 20th-century industrialization of agriculture has increased the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the food system by an order of magnitude; chemical fertilizers (made from natural gas), pesticides (made from petroleum), farm machinery, modern food processing and packaging and transportation have together transformed a system that in 1940 produced 2.3 calories of food energy for every calorie of fossil-fuel energy it used into one that now takes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food"

"Nations that opened their markets to the global flood of cheap grain (under pressure from previous administrations as well as the World Bank and the I.M.F.) lost so many farmers that they now find their ability to feed their own populations hinges on decisions made in Washington (like your predecessor’s precipitous embrace of biofuels) and on Wall Street. They will now rush to rebuild their own agricultural sectors and then seek to protect them by erecting trade barriers. Expect to hear the phrases “food sovereignty” and “food security” on the lips of every foreign leader you meet."

Got your attention yet? In the letter, Pollan does not complain, but rather outlines a shift in agricultural policy that could, if instituted, do more than any $850 billion bailout can do. It can balance markets globally, make peace with nations via fair trade and lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, effectively address climate changeand return consumers to an understanding of what goes into the food that goes into their mouths. It is not going nostalgically backward, but is forthrightly about reclaiming the solar food economy and the local or regional food movement.

I think that Cleveland and Ohio are, in many ways, poised to take advantage of Pollan's perspective. Let's hope that someone from the Fund for our Economic Future is reading this plan. Ohio like many other states can cut costs, become healthier and more knowledgeable populace simply by saying no thanks to fossil fuel laden sometimes toxic corporate food, planting gardens and returning existing farm lands to a range of more diverse plantings alternating with grazing land. This would improve our water, improve food safety and security and provide jobs.

Cuyahoga County alone could drive this initiative by adpopting a plan to offer locally grown food in municipally funded eateries and schools. The county could provide incentives to local grocers and restaurants for sending their food waste not to landfills, but to farmers. Just say no thanks to vending machines in schools and municipal buildings. Stop offering bottled water at every public meeting, ban pesticides and herbicides, encourage urban farming and be sure that every k-12 school has a garden to begin to teach school children about food.

There are many more suggestions and I'm sure you have them. Post them here and I will forward them to elected officials for consideration.

Leaving you with an image:

Spring in Town

Spring in Town by Grant Wood

life with a oily residue

I did not realize the extent oil has played in the development of this last century America. Most of what we see on TV is oil for transportation and gas to heat homes. It would be great to see a list of all the things we use that require oil to make or run. If suitable replacements can be made, we should do that.

President Carter had a solar array installed, Ronald Regan had it removed. The new president might want to install a new and improved solar array and a wind turbine to boot. And dismantle the food as a weapon infrastructure because it harms us too.

Pollan on WCPN

Michael Pollan talks to WCPN's Dan Moulthrop. It's after Richard Clarke at about 17:58/33:28 of the podcast.

Richard Clarke

The inscription on Richard Clarke's latest book Breakpoint reads:

"To those who seek the truth through science, even when the powerful try to suppress it."

I am going to go back and re-read Darkness at Noon, we have some remembering to do.

Off Tuesday

I am there SM...Give me a call at work tomorrow.  Road trip :)

prepping for Pollan

I have been reading In Defense of Food in preparation for tonight's talk.

Today I found this: A Kernel of Truth: New Study Reveals Health Benefits of Corn Products

Note that the article is provided here on the website of the American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) with this logo:

(I'm not sayin' fat is bad... I'm just sayin'...)

About the Grain Foods Foundation

The Grain Foods Foundation, a joint venture of members of the milling and baking industries formed in 2004 (about the time the lo-carb diet hit the streets), is dedicated to advancing the public's understanding of the beneficial role grain-based foods play in the human diet. Directed by a board of trustees, funding for the Foundation is provided through voluntary donations from private grain-based food companies and is supplemented by industry associations. (really!!!???) For more information about the Grain Foods Foundation, visit http://www.grainpower.org.

Further, they have a link to the Oil Mill Gazeteer. I couldn't resist, so here's an example of what these food chemists read while at work or on the john:

"Dow AgroSciences Announces Agreement to Acquire Dairyland Seed Co., Bio-Plant Research Ltd.

Dow AgroSciences LLC has announced it is acquiring Dairyland Seed Co., Inc., the West Bend, Wisconsin, based business with plant breeding programs in hybrid corn, soybeans, and alfalfa, and Bio-Plant Research, Camp Point, Illinois, a business affiliated with Dairyland Seed with a primary focus on licensing of soybean, alfalfa, and wheat germplasm. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Dairyland Seed has a product portfolio and brand that strengthens our corn, soybean, and alfalfa business in the U.S. and globally,” said Jerome Peribere, president and CEO, Dow AgroSciences. “Furthermore, Dairyland Seed’s investment in research and development complements our increased invest-ment in developing industry leading proprietary plant breeding programs.”

The agreement includes all crop genetics, brands, plant breeding programs in hybrid corn, soybeans and alfalfa as well as Dairyland’s research, processing, and production locations. Tom Strachota, currently CEO of Dairyland Seed, will remain with the business to lead Dairyland Seed as Dow AgroSciences’ general manager for the business. Chuck Simmons will continue to lead Bio-Plant Research Ltd. as its general manager. Dow AgroSciences will continue to independently market Dairyland Seeds under the Dairyland brand. Dairyland Seed will continue to be headquartered in West Bend.

“The seed industry has gone through some dramatic changes in the last 10 years. And while we’ve been highly successful, our family owners along with our board felt that in order to grow in the future and best utilize our world-class genetics, we needed to align with a leading company in the area of biotechnology, marker assisted breeding, and other emerging technologies,” noted Tom Strachota, CEO for Dairyland Seed Company. “Our goal was to find a partner who shared our values, our philosophies and our commitment to employees and we’ve found that with Dow AgroSciences.”"

Somehow the name Dow (who took over Union Carbide) which is associated to oven cleaner and Bhopal in my mind makes me want to rush out to get my city fresh share ASAP. The grocery store is becoming a scarier place than Franklin Castle in Cleveland on Halloween!

Pollan on what we can do - change the farm bill

One of the several things Pollan suggested last night was to prepare to change the farm bill. Whoa!

OK, so here it is - the farm bill - a side by side comparison. How we prop up commodities growers who use more fossil fuel calories to produce fewer food calories driving us to disasters like climate change, healthcare crises and national security threats.

I haven't read it, but I guess now I will. You?

Other links of interest: House Committee on Agriculture

Senate Agriculture Committee

if you missed Pollan in Oberlin

You can hear/see him here speaking at the Longnow Foundation.


pollan highlight

"we have to encourage the many people, the many young people today who do want to farm, make it possible. Make cheap land available to them. Make an education in agriculture available to them. And there are signs that this is happening. For the first time the new agriculture census that is done every five years found an uptick in the number of farmers in America; the first time in history, about a hundred thousand new farmers today over five year ago. Very small farmers, local farms, people at Farmer's Market, CSAs, so we have to make farming cool. We have to make it pay well to encourage people to go back to the land and the last thing we have to do on the farm is preserve farm land near our cities. That is one of the most important, most endangered resources we have. We are lucky in San Francisco that you do not have to travel hundreds of miles to get to a good farm land but we have to make sure it stays this way. In the same way that if you want to develop a wetland you have to meet a very high bar of proof that is absolutely necessary and you will be strongly discouraged from doing it. The same should hold true for prime A1 farmland that you should have to provide a food system impact statement before you are allowed to develop it because once houses go up on this land; it will never be farmed again. I say that although I just heard about, there is an environmental group that is actually bulldozing defunct real estate developments in the central valley now. So, I might be wrong about that. The trust for public land is involved in a big project to actually return a subdivision to parkland but the next step is farmland and we should incorporate farms in our development schemes. We should reward developers in the same way we reward them for you know open space. We should reward them for including farms. I mean what if we have farms in the middle of all those subdivisions instead of golf courses. Would not that be great?"

Yes, Mr. Pollan - that would be great!

See how Cleveland can lead in the 21st century?