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Michael Pollan
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November 28, 2008

"My path was through the garden." Michael Pollan

Few people reflect and report more astutely on the state of American food production and consumption than Michael Pollan. Beginning with his fascination in plant cultivation, THE BOTANY OF DESIRE, Pollan has become a mixture of reporter and prophet, documenting the state of American food and warning of the consequences if we don't change our ways.

An Open Letter to the Farmer in Chief

New York Times Magazine In October 2008, Pollan wrote to the prospective presidents about just how far food policy reaches into our world — from national security to the rise of diabetes. In his ""An Open Letter to the Farmer in Chief," Pollan gave the next occupant a "heads up" about an issue that hadn't made any noise on the very noisy campaign trail:
[Y]ou will find yourself confronting the fact so easy to overlook these past few years that the health of a nation's food system is a critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your attention...[Y]ou will need not simply to address food prices but to make the reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration: unless you do, you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. Unlike food, these are issues you did campaign on but as you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems and will have to change if we hope to solve them.

Photo by Robin HollandMichael Pollan is the author, most recently, of IN DEFENSE OF FOOD: AN EATER'S MANIFESTO. His previous book, THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: A NATURAL HISTORY OF FOUR MEALS (2006), was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the NEW YORK TIMES and the Washington Post. It also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award for best food writing, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of THE BOTANY OF DESIRE: A PLANT'S-EYE VIEW OF THE WORLD (2001); A PLACE OF MY OWN (1997); and SECOND NATURE (1991). A contributing writer to the NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Pollan is the recipient of numerous journalistic awards, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003 and the Reuters-I.U.C.N. 2000 Global Award for Environmental Journalism.

Pollan served for many years as executive editor of HARPER'S Magazine and is now the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley. His articles have been anthologized in BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING (2004); BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS (1990 and 2003) and the NORTON BOOK OF NATURE WRITING. Published November 28, 2008.

Guest photo by Robin Holland

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References and Reading:
Michael Pollan's Web Site
At Pollan's Web site you'll find a multitude of writings, interviews and a list of his favortie Web links.

On the Table
Michael Pollan's blog at the NEW YORK TIMES.

"An Open Letter to the Farmer in Chief,"
Michael Pollan, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, October 9, 2008. Read the full letter, and check out reader response.

"In FOOD, INC., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA."

Published November 28, 2008

Also This Week:

Bill Moyers sits down with Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley, to discuss what direction the U.S. should pursue in the often-overlooked question of food policy. Pollan is author of IN DEFENSE OF FOOD: AN EATER'S MANIFESTO.

Discover innovative schemes aiming to change the way our nation eats. View Will Allen, of Growing Power, a pioneer in the urban farming movement in action. Find out about what Alice Waters, international-known chef and sustainable farm advocate, is hoping to see on the White House Lawn. And take a virtual visit to one of artist Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates.

Find out simple ways that you can change the world one meal at a time.

Why are America's food banks suffering shortages? Find out what you can do to help.

Is it a farm bill or a food bill? What's behind the debate over American farm policy.

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