Michael Pollan has a new article in this Sunday's New York Times. It's an 8,000 word open letter to the next President that has been included in the Times' Food Issue of the magazine. In it, Pollan outlines goals surrounding food issues for the next President including:
1. Resolarizing the American Farm
Your challenge is to take control of [the] vast federal machinery and use it to drive a transition to a new solar-food economy, starting on the farm. Right now, the government actively discourages the farmers it subsidizes from growing healthful, fresh food: farmers receiving crop subsidies are prohibited from growing “specialty crops” — farm-bill speak for fruits and vegetables. (This rule was the price exacted by California and Florida produce growers in exchange for going along with subsidies for commodity crops.) Commodity farmers should instead be encouraged to grow as many different crops — including animals — as possible. Why? Because the greater the diversity of crops on a farm, the less the need for both fertilizers and pesticides.
2. Reregionalizing the Food System
A decentralized food system offers a great many other benefits as well. Food eaten closer to where it is grown will be fresher and require less processing, making it more nutritious. Whatever may be lost in efficiency by localizing food production is gained in resilience: regional food systems can better withstand all kinds of shocks. When a single factory is grinding 20 million hamburger patties in a week or washing 25 million servings of salad, a single terrorist armed with a canister of toxins can, at a stroke, poison millions. Such a system is equally susceptible to accidental contamination: the bigger and more global the trade in food, the more vulnerable the system is to catastrophe. The best way to protect our food system against such threats is obvious: decentralize it.
3. Rebuilding America's Food Culture
Making available more healthful and more sustainable food does not guarantee it will be eaten, much less appreciated or enjoyed. We need to use all the tools at our disposal — not just federal policy and public education but the president’s bully pulpit and the example of the first family’s own dinner table — to promote a new culture of food that can undergird your sun-food agenda.
This is an article that we should all read. I'll be spending part of my weekend poring through the nooks and crannies of Pollan's words.
Additionally, check out this fantastic slide show of photos and profiles which will also print in this Sunday's Times. Photos of some of the people who are fighting for fair, clean food for us all on a daily basis. In addition to folks like Anna Lappe, Tom Philpott and Bryant Terry, I was especially happy to see a profile of the advocates for the Immokalee Farm Workers -- a group working to bring workers' rights to the immigrant farmers in Florida.