Bonnie Bucqueroux retired from Michigan State University's School of Journalism to experiment with online publications, including Lansing Online News. She is also co-president (with Susan Masten) of Lansing Area NOW.

9 responses to “Over-reaction to author Michael Pollan prompts a closer look at our food systems”

  1. Maria Rodale

    Thanks for some great insights (I’m going to read Black Swan and use the term farmageddon from now on!). Please read my book, Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal The Planet, Feed The World and Keep Us Safe for even more surprising insights into our rapidly dwindling chances for a future if we don’t change our food system soon.

  2. Bonnie Bucqueroux

    Maria, it is an honor to have you comment. The Rodale family has done so much to promote healthy food raised in ways that respect the planet. I still have my well-thumbed copy of the out-of-print guide to Composting. I have friends who worked at Prevention and New Farm, two important publications. The investment your family has made in the research on organic methods is a legacy unlike any other. So good to make your acquaintance, and you and your book are further proof that I think women will play a major role in reforming our farm-and-food systems. I look forward to reading your book. I share you urgency.

  3. David Poulson

    Interesting stuff, as always. Some related thoughts raised here in the Financial Times, of all places: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/cb020a2c-435a-11df-833f-00144feab49a.html

  4. Sandra Suarez

    Hmmm, I’m heating up some of that great Zingerman’s chicken noodle soup right now – did I mention I go there every day?!
    : )

  5. Bonnie Bucqueroux

    I’d eat there every day myself (though I have to eat gluten-free,vegetarian and lactose-free), but I would not try to persuade myself that doing so would save the planet.

  6. margot

    Great article! I agree with the overall thrust of your argument–I think Pollan and many of his fans focus a little too much on personal consumption choices and too little on what they can do to promote structural changes–like the Farm Bill issue you mention–and overestimate the power of “voting with your fork.” This overlaps with/echoes the movement towards “green” consumption which a) may or may not be truly “green” and b) may serve as a distraction for many people from putting time and energy into movements for political and structural changes that would have much more dramatic effects.

    But one of my other frustrations with Pollan is his excessive and unjustified demonization of corn and hfcs. There are very good reasons to be concerned the environmental effects of oil-dependent corn farming, the public health threats caused by feeding corn to cows, and the abusive enforcement of seed patents. But there’s no reason to think that eating corn or hfcs is necessarily worse for human health than other starches or sugars.

    The study you link to about hfcs, which was conducted at Princeton, not Rutgers, actually didn’t show consistent differences in hfcs vs. sucrose.
    I’ve written about that study in more depth here: http://tiny.cc/efm9c
    and Marion Nestle covered it here: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2010/03/hfcs-makes-rats-fat/
    and the LA Times covered it here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/03/high-fructose-corn-syrup-hfcs-sugar-princeton-study.html

    Cheap sources of calories aren’t necessarily a bad thing, especially with as many food-insecure people as there are in the U.S. We can advocate for food that’s more nutritious and produced in a more sustainable and labor-friendly way without demonizing particular foods (and often, by extension, the people who eat them).

  7. Bonnie Bucqueroux

    Thank you for your insights, and thanks for catching my error with Princeton, not Rutgers. And I agree that sweet corn for humans is not the problem, but remember that those aren’t niblets growing there in most of the mega-fields that we see.

  8. Sandra Suarez
  9. Chris Bedford

    Bonnie,
    The event that Michael Pollan attended in Ann Arbor was a fundraiser for local food organizations and my organization from West Michigan. I don’t believe it is fair to criticize Michael for using his celebrity to help grassroots people raise money.

    The fact that the attendees had the funds to buy Ari’s $7/bread meant they could afford to contribute a good deal of money to Edible Avalon, the Homegrown Food Festival, and the Center to do the real work. We are grateful to Michael for his generosity. It was a great night that educated a whole bunch of people.

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