Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Michael Pollan is coming to town!
I'm so excited! Wednesday the Lakeview Libary and Community Groundworks at Troy Gardens is having a potluck and discussion in the evening to discuss In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan as a kickoff event to his visit this week.
I'm getting up early tomorrow before work to bake an apple crisp (not low-carb, but reduced sugar, at least) made with apples from a co-worker's home orchard and from Green's Pleasant Acres, where Jennifer and U and I made our annual pilgrimage this past weekend. On Thursday, the man himself is speaking at the Kohl Center on the UW-Madison campus. On Saturday morning, it's REAP Food Group's annual Food for Thought Festival, where Pollan is the keynote speaker.
I've been a Pollan fan ever since I read his eloquent "Naturally" when it appeared as the New York Times Magazine cover story in 2001. I swooned over every beautiful word in The Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World.
I don't agree with Pollan on everything, but if more people turned on to what he's saying, wow, this would be a better place. I wish Obama had taken his advice to turn those manicured acres surrounding the White House into sustainable farmland growing veg for presidential family meals and state feasts! What a message that would have been.
My main gripe – my only gripe, really – with Pollan is his anti-meat, anti-saturated fat stance. It irked me whenever it came up In Defense of Food. He consistently treated the unhealthfulness of saturated fat as a given, even though in several passages he spelled out evidence that it is not. He says humans can live healthfully without meat, but not without plants – but surely he must be aware of the Inuit and the Masai, whose traditional diets included little to no plant food.
His main arguments against eating meat turn on arguments against industrially produced meat – but every one of those can also be used as arguments against all industrially produced food, including his beloved plant leaves. Which, by the way Mike, ya can't live on eating mostly them! Environmental, ethical – all of it. The recent book The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice and Sustainability by Lierre Kieth (a fellow ex-vegetarian, and a feminist – I haven't read the book yet, but I like her already!) spells out the horrific cost to animal life – in greater numbers – that factory farming exacts. Woe to the wildlife that crosses the path of a harvesting machine, for instance.
That's why I'm staying up tonight making a shirt that sasses back at his famous dictum, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Gee, I hope someday I come up with a famous dictum that people quote all over the place. In the meantime, here's the design. And, for readers who aren't familiar with it, here's the cover of his book which I'm spoofing, with Pollan's oft-quoted manifesto printed on the yellow band around the romaine. (Bibb?)
To that I say this: "Eat food. Mostly cheese."
That's my Wisconsin manifesto.