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Michael Pollan on Food Reformers’ Feuds
6/18/2010
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Bestselling author reports on the struggle to reform American food culture, in the course of commenting on five new books
by Craig Weatherby


Bestselling author/journalist Michael Pollan reviews five new books on aspects of U.S. food culture in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books.

But rather than a conventional review, his savvy essay – titled “The Food Movement, Rising” – reveals each author’s core message within a cogent commentary on the competing grass roots movements vying to reform American farming and eating.

Coincidentally, the basic nutritional message of Pollan’s review, the books it addresses, and the documentary Food, Inc. was echoed in the recommendations released this week by the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Pollan’s review summarizes the recent history of mainstream food culture and the ways it does not serve us well.

He then turns to the struggle among reformers with varying views to cooperate to move America forward to a healthier, more sustainable future for food:

“…there are indications that these various voices may be coming together in something that looks more and more like a coherent movement… the food movement coalesces around the recognition that today’s food and farming economy is ‘unsustainable’—that it can’t go on in its current form much longer without courting a breakdown of some kind, whether environmental, economic, or both.”

We recommend Pollan’s review/essay… it draws a clear picture of where reform stands now, and points to some paths onward.

These are the five books he mentions:
  • Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front, by Joel Salatin
  • All You Can Eat: How Hungry Is America?, by Joel Berg
  • Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Terra Madre: Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities, by Carlo Petrini, with a foreword by Alice Waters
  • The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society, by Janet A. Flammang

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