Just finished reading Michael Pollan‘s excellent memo to President-elect Obama regarding the state of American agriculture. An excellent overview of the problems of the current intensive methods of “farming”, if that word can be used for monocultures of corn, CAFOs, manure lagoons, feeding antibiotics to cattle as a matter of routine, food irradiation, a process that requires an average of 10 petroleum-based calories of energy to produce one calorie of mass-produced “food”. What was on your dinner plate tonight? Do you know how much oil it took to get it there?
But even better than the overview of what’s wrong, Pollan includes three critical steps for changing the current system, improving our security, improving our health, and addressing climate change: resolarize the American farm, regionalize the food system, rebuild our food culture. My favorite part: tear out a portion of the White House’s South Lawn and put in an organic fruits and vegetable garden, use the produce to feed the Obama family (and the White House staff, presumably) with extra going to local food banks, and be sure that the entire Obama family spends a little time out there pulling weeds. I can’t think of a better way to be the change we want to see, than to have our President take 20 or 30 minutes between meetings to take in the weather and harvest something edible. The world will have truly changed when the Secret Service guys can get involved, too.
(If you don’t have a New York Times account and want to read the memo, check out BugMeNot for a login/password combo.)