The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Michael Pollan at Bates Oct 27

Michael Pollan at Bates Oct 27

Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 583­

For the annual Otis Lecture, influential food writer Michael Pollan offers a talk titled "In Defense of Food: The Omnivore's Solution" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, in the College Chapel, College Street.

Pollan is the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006) and this year's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
Ted M.
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 114
Thanks, Lisa - something that I can finally go to!
user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 85
Michael Pollan was on Fresh Air last night!
I didn't get a chance to listen, but luckily all the interviews are archived! Click here when you get 40 free minutes to listen:­
user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 75
Is anyone interested in carpooling from Portland to attend? Or is there a meetup possible in Brunswick to carpool to Bates?
Ted M.
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 119
Michael Pollan was on Fresh Air last night!
I didn't get a chance to listen, but luckily all the interviews are archived! Click here when you get 40 free minutes to listen:­

I heard the Pollan piece last night - fascinating! He mirrors what Barbara Kingsolver says about the absurdity of shipping food half way around the world, especially when many of those foods are available right here. Same foods shipped in both directions. Sounds like insanity to me!
user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 89
We did not attend last night, but my folks did. They arrived a half-hour early and were just about the last ones allowed in. It was s.r.o. and the folks who sat on the floor in the middle of the aisles were kicked out due to fire codes!! I'm thrilled that there is that much interest, but sorry that some folks missed the sold out event.

I wonder if the press attended or reported?

My mom reported that a lot of his talk was excellent and based on his latest book.
Merry H.
Portland, ME
Post #: 41
So many people were turned away Monday night that Michael agreed to speak again Tuesday morning. I heard both presentations. They were both great though very different. I was unable to take notes Monday night because we were wedged into the pews of the chapel at Bates too tightly. Isn't that a wonderful commentary on the awareness we are growing in Maine?!

What follows in this and the following message are my field notes on his presentation which I would be happy to share with the group during a winter get-together.

Michael spoke about the “Sun-Food Agenda” that he wrote as an open letter to the presidential candidates and published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

His argument is based in the simple, underlying premise that “Every calorie we eat is ultimately the product of photosynthesis — a process based on making food energy from sunshine. Chlorophyll is the original and ultimate solar energy collector.” His intention is to frame the issues surrounding real food, energized by solar power, not by fossil fuel, with such political power that they become an important feature of the political debate despite a political system that is “very invested in the status quo.”

One impediment to raising these issues is the fact that Iowa, where candidates must bow down before the gods of commodity farm subsidies and ethanol to survive is the first state in the candidate selection process. Standing against this impediment is the critical relevance of food and farm issues to three major issues of our time:

 Energy independence
 Health care crisis
 Climate change

These are the gates through which we can drive food and farm issues into the political arena.

Here are the facts that Pollan puts forth to create awareness of the relevance of food policy to these issues:

Energy Independence
 The processing, packaging, and transporting of commodity crops is energy intensive
 Farming uses 19% of fossil fuel, second after transportation
 In 1940, 1 calorie of energy into agriculture  2.3 calories out in food
In 2008, 10 calories of energy into agriculture  1 calories out in food

Health Care Crisis
 Four of our leading health issues (heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers) are significantly related to diet
 In 1960, Americans spent 5% of income on health, 18% on food
In 2008, Americans spent 16% of income on health, 9% on food
 Our fossil fuel based, over-processed diet is the least healthy imaginable
 Commodity crops are inedible until processed, but the more you process food the less nutrients it offers
 We are eroding our soils, flushing runoff from our chemically poisoned fields into our water supply

Climate Change
 Our current conventional food system has a huge carbon footprint
 20-37% of greenhouse gases are attributable to a food system based on deforestation, fossil fuel fertilizer and pesticides, the machinery to run huge monoculture farms, packaging, processing, and transporting food
 Methane from livestock, while more short-lived than carbon, retains heat more efficiently
 The huge barren black fields of the monocropped commodity crops from November until May are not solar collectors, are not enriching the soil, and are not sequestering carbon as cover-cropped fields would.

While the four major commodity crops (corn, wheat, soy, and rice) are heavily subsidized, the diversity of whole, sustainably grown crops are not. This policy has arisen because “Political leaders like cheap food, but the gig is up.” As fossil fuel becomes scarce and expensive, “The price of transporting food from California to New York has gone from $3 per box to $10 per box. Big corporate California growers see the writing on the wall and are buying up New England farmland.” ...To Be Continued...
Merry H.
Portland, ME
Post #: 42
Michael Pollan's Tuesday Morning Lecture continued...

What political strategies and programs would turn this around? Pollan proposes:

 Declare the President to be “Farmer-in-Chief” who would use his bully pulpit to promote Sun-Food grown in polycultures
 Appoint an Earth friendly, health-conscious Secretary of Agriculture
 Appoint a White House chef who understands the importance of cooking whole, fresh, local foods
 Appoint a gardener to oversee an organic kitchen garden on the White House lawn
 Diversify the members of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture to represent all regions, small farmers, and eaters
 Change the incentives built into the farm bill to favor non fossil fuel dependent farming and production of fresh whole foods in polycultures that promote health for citizens and the land
 Subsidize carbon sequestration in green fields and pastures
 Tax feed lots for their pollution as factories rather than farms
 Bring animals back to the farm away from the feed lots (that neatly divide nature’s elegant solution of converting “waste” into fertilizer into two problems: food for the animals and hazardous waste management.
 Make composting of food waste mandatory, returning it to farms and gardens, much like the mandatory recycling of many localities
 Support sophisticated agricultural programs in our institutions of higher learning
 Fund public school programs that teach growing, preserving, preparing, and sharing food at table (beginning with the children as President Kennedy did with physical education)
 Educate the public on the benefits of Sun-Foods to energy independence, public health, and climate change and the harms done by eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases
 Convert golf courses, with their surrounding homes, into farmland
 Protect farmland, especially within 100 miles of cities (where 2800 acres per hour are going to development)
 Provide tax incentives and supports for people to return to farming as a respectable, economically sustainable career
 Reorient publicly funded agriculture research
 Help fund four-season farmers’ markets in every town and urban neighborhood
 Make the regulations for agriculture “scale sensitive,” with lesser regulations for small local farmers whose direct sales make them accountable to their customers and greater regulations for factory farms
 Promote the value of resiliency over efficiency
 Create a foreign policy that supports local food production in other countries

What can we do personally while we work toward these political changes? Pollan suggests:

 Kitchen gardening
 Buying local
 Focusing supermarket buying to the live, unprocessed foods on the perimeter of the market
 Refusing to buy foods with more than five ingredients, especially if some of them are unintelligible to a fifth grader
 Increasing the portion of our budget for food, thereby decreasing the portion for health services
 Empowering ourselves by learning to provide for ourselves

This is the Sun-Food Agenda for each of us as well as for the next President of the United States of America.
user 3832381
Portland, ME
Post #: 90
Right on!!!
Thank you so much for taking and sharing your notes, Merry!!!!!!!!!
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