“The upside — if there is an upside — to having a highly concentrated food economy where a very small number of corporations exert tremendous power is that when they move, everything changes," he said. He pointed to McDonald’s decision, following years of complaints from customers and animal rights groups, to stop tolerating inhumane livestock slaughter. "The way the whole industry slaughtered animals changed overnight," he said. "You don’t have to love McDonald’s to see that engaging with them might actually produce some positive results.”
Of course, the downside — and there is a downside — to engaging in conversations with representatives of powerful corporations is that they will spend the bulk of the time telling you what their company is doing right. And later, if they do make changes based on external pressure, they’ll frame it as if they’ve simply discovered a new way to be right.
PBS has posted (but doesn’t let you embed), the full-length video of Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire documentary. Haven’t gotten to this yet, but I will. In the meantime, here’s a preview via Kottke:
In his latest Op-Ed for the Times, Michael Pollan sounds an optimistic note that even the worst case health care reforms will result in positive changes to the diets, and health, of most Americans. It will be a hard fight, but it’s expected that the bare minimum health care reform will make it harder for insurance companies to drop you when you get sick, while also not allowing them to decide to cover you or not based on preexisting conditions. This means, that for the first time, health insurance providers will actually be financially rewarded for keeping you healthy. If they have to face the consequences ($$$) of your soda drinking ass getting diabetes, they’re going to do what they can to make sure you don’t get diabetes, and they’re going to use their friends in Congress to help them.
But these rules may well be about to change â€” and, when it comes to reforming the American diet and food system, that step alone could be a game changer. Even under the weaker versions of health care reform now on offer, health insurers would be required to take everyone at the same rates, provide a standard level of coverage and keep people on their rolls regardless of their health. Terms like â€œpre-existing conditionsâ€ and â€œunderwritingâ€ would vanish from the health insurance rulebook â€” and, when they do, the relationship between the health insurance industry and the food industry will undergo a sea change.
As Emdash said last week some folks are boycotting Whole Foods for some dumb things that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said regarding the current health care debate. To completely destroy my credibility, I don’t think I actually read what he wrote, so take this with a bag of salt (that you may or may not buy at Whole Foods). I’ll only reiterate that I’m not boycotting Whole Foods, I don’t shop there because I don’t like it. You know who else isn’t boycotting Whole Foods? Michael Pollan:
So Mackey is wrong on health care, but Whole Foods is often right about food, and their support for the farmers matters more to me than the political views of their founder. I havenâ€™t examined the political views of all the retailers who feed me, but I can imagine having a lot of eating problems if I make them a litmus test.
Via HuffPo and Joe.
Chef Will Gilson of Cambridge’s Garden at the Cellar is raising two cute pigs, Porcini and Truffle, for slaughter later this summer in anticipation of a dinner at the James Beard House in New York. The pigs are being raised on a farm, not at the restaurant, but I still think it’s notable. I like eating meat, but I also think people should make a conscious decision about what they’re eating. Articles like this that put a cute face on your pork chop force you to think about it. More chefs raising their own animals (hopefully as close to the restaurant as possible) will mean better educated eaters, and I hope more local chefs adopt this way of sourcing meat.
-Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
-Donâ€™t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
-Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store
-Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot.
-It is not just what you eat but how you eat.
-Eat around a table at regular meal times.
-Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.
Plus, here are 4 bonus Michael Pollan Food Myths!
Myth #1: Food is a delivery vehicle for nutrients.
Myth #2: We need experts to tell us how to eat.
Myth #3: The whole point of eating is to maintain and promote bodily health.
Myth #4: There are evil foods and good foods.
Since my favorite authors refuse to have blogs of their own, I will do it for them. Here’s an article by Chuck Klosterman about Obama’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson a college basketball coach in Oregon. The famous campaign story of Michele making (NBA alumni) Craig let Obama play basketball with him and his friends is retold and analyzed from a different light.
Here’s Klosterman on The B.S. Report podcast. Haven’t listened yet, but I imagine it will be good.
And you know what else? Someone needs to come up with an Alltop channel that features all the articles by all the good authors who refuse to have blogs. I’m thinking Michael Lewis, Michael Pollan, Klosterman, maybe Susan Orlean if it’s about origami or orchids, maybe Krakauer, Gladwell because he never updates his site. There’s others. Who am I missing?
For your lazy day viewing pleasure. Malcolm Gladwell being interviewed by Charlie Rose (below) and I couldn’t figure out how to embed the Bill Moyers video, but Michael Pollan being interviewed by Bill Moyers. Both very interesting and a good way to spend a couple hours.
Sarah Palin caused an uproar a couple days ago by conducting an interview in front of a farmer slaughtering turkeys. I didn’t follow much of it, but my main reaction to it was more on the side of “Really? That was the best place for an interview” aas opposed to “those poor turkeys”. Though it lead me to this article by Patrick Martins, director of Slow Food USA. (Speaking of Slow Food…)
When you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, waiting for the main attraction to be brought in on a platter, take a moment to think about where it came from and how it found its way to your table.
So where’s my turkey coming from? I wasn’t sure my mom would know, but she did. Plainville Farms. I looked through the website and didn’t find much of anything except they have a ton of USDA labels about how they treat their animals. So I feel a little better that at least I know. So where’s your turkey from?
I had meant to post Michael Pollan’s latest (now 5 weeks old) NY Times effort –
An Open Letter to the Next Farmer in Chief – and this is as good a post to do it in. We’re in full food round up mode now, folks. It was neat how Pollan responded to readers’ comments in a different section, that’s a good move on the NY Times’ part.
And here’s an interview with Pollan from The American Conservative where he talks about the idea of food security being something the Right and the Left can work together on. Interesting parts:
You see it in other traditions, too: the Mayans also had grain reserves. Now the amount of grain we have worldwide is a six- or eight-day supply. If there were a major shock to the system, people would go hungry quickly. It was one of the reforms of the Nixon administration to get rid of the grain reserve under enormous pressure from agribusiness and big grain traders who wanted more control over the market and wanted to be able to speculate on grain prices.
â€œArugula,â€ we should remember, is a marketing term invented by somebody who thought that this very common green, known by farmers all over the Midwest for many years as â€œrocket,â€ needed to be tuned up and given new appeal. Itâ€™s a complete marketing creation, and itâ€™s completely ruined a very healthy greenâ€”at least from a political point of view.
Shopsin’s from April 2002:
What does happen occasionally is that Kenny gets an idea for a dish and writes on the specials boardâ€” yes, there is a specials boardâ€”something like Indomalekian Sunrise Stew. (Kenny and his oldest son, Charlie, invented the country of Indomalekia along with its culinary traditions.) A couple of weeks later, someone finally orders Indomalekian Sunrise Stew and Kenny canâ€™t remember what he had in mind when he thought it up. Fortunately, the customer doesnâ€™t know, either, so Kenny just invents it again on the spot.
Here’s a 2004 article from Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, on Bush’s USDA. There’s too much in here to quote, so just read the whole thing.
And of course I would be remiss for not posting the interview that started the post off. An, no, THE epic definition of political blindness, unless of course the GOP base rallies around stuff like this.
This post has changed in the 3 weeks since I started it. Right now, the way I’m blogging is writing posts in bulk a couple times per week and then roboposting them one post a day. This makes it easier for me to blog and makes the blog better, I think. I imagine that most of you don’t care about any of this, but I feel an explanation is in order. So anyway, I started this post after it seemed like I was about to post a lot of stuff that had appeared on Kottke. Since then, 2 more things I would have posted were posted by him and, well, we got linked by him, somehow (which was about all I hoped to achieve on the internet in an ZOMG!!11!! kind of way). So although the title of this post is Unabashed Kottke Linking, as you can tell, I’m feeling quite bashed. I don’t want Unlikelywords to be a sort of delayed version of the Kottke RSS, but that’s how it’s gonna have to go sometimes. Below is the original post.
Look, here’s the thing. I read kottke.org and I assume most of you do, too. It’s full of good stuff. Lately, though pretty much everything on the internet I have ready to post shows up on his site. If I’m lucky, I haven’t gotten to it on my RSS feed yet and I don’t feel guilty or derivative. If I’m unlucky, I agonize over whether I should still post it. Usually I do. I can’t help it if I like Gladwell and Lewis and lists and Fenway Park and Manny (well, I don’t like him, but you know what I mean) and Pollan. These are things I liked before I started reading Kottke (and boingboing, for that matter), and I’m going to have to link to them.
Anyway, here are the explanations for a few that will be showing up in the next couple weeks/days. Hopefully, “I saw it somewhere else first” is a good enough defense.
100 skills (I saw it somewhere else first).
Brad Pitt in Money Ball (My admiration for Michael Lewis is on record, and I would have blogged this after hearing about it anyway).
Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker (My admiration for Malcolm Gladwell is noted in the fact that I work for a company partly based on The Tipping Point, and I would have blogged this after hearing about it anyway).
Michael Pollan in the NYTimes (I write about him and Orleans, Gladwell, Pollan, Schlosser, Krakauer, etc)
Manny (Come on.)
Tiny picture of Fenway Park. (No excuses, this is just awesome and people send their awesome stuff to him first).
So those are the excuses for a while, I hope they suffice. And if in the future you notice a higher than acceptable proportion of Kottke-biting posts, know I am suffering internal turmoil.