Michael Pollan: less oil and more sunshine for food production  OCT 27 2008

Michael Pollan, who I have spoken of previously, wrote an open letter in a recent issue of the NY Times magazine to the whoever prevails in the November presidential election. Pollan is concerned with contemporary American food policy.

There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I'm urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine. True, this is easier said than done -- fossil fuel is deeply implicated in everything about the way we currently grow food and feed ourselves. To put the food system back on sunlight will require policies to change how things work at every link in the food chain: in the farm field, in the way food is processed and sold and even in the American kitchen and at the American dinner table. Yet the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.

This is a really long piece but essential, important reading dripping with great stuff. If you don't have time to read it, Michael Ruhlman summed up Pollan's main points in a more bite-sized form. An even more abridged version of Pollan's recent food advice would be:

For people: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

For the United States: "We need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine."

The more I read of Pollan's writing, the more I wish he were the Secretary of Agriculture or the head of the USDA or something. Paging Mr. Obama...

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