In Defense of Food

In Defense of Food

The threat of colliding storms couldn't keep me away from Michael Pollan's premiere author's event last night to promote his new book, In Defense of Food. The holidays were events to get through for this evening. My star was on stage. His book was in my hands. The message: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants., half a haiku, already memorized from the front cover.

He came out, all legs and laced up boots. He talked about shopping and eating from the outer edges of the grocery store to find Food. To avoid the food science products of the middle aisles.

He talked about the satisfaction of eating Food. That you don't need as much of it to be satisfied. Patricia Unterman interviewing him disagreed and I'm more in her court on that point then in his too. I know that if a little is good, more is better.

And he talked about the huge toll on the environment by methane belching cows. I tried to picture that, a nice brown jersey cow belching, but couldn't. Apparently it takes a giant toll on our air quality though.

And then we parted ways. Michael Pollan, my rock star of the eat local, protect the environment, reduce my carbon bite movement hit on bananas. He said he wasn't a purist about eating local. Fine. I was with him. We do the best we can. But then he condoned eating bananas. In fact, he said, we should enjoy them now in the last days of cheap oil because it isn't going to last.

I agree with the enjoy part. Especially when food is imported. It's getting to us at a high cost. But I also believe that eating closer to home is better for the environment and is a way everyone can participate to one degree or another to make a difference. And it felt like Mr. Michael Pollan backed off on his previous point to raise awareness of the high cost of consuming cheap imported foods. I'm disappointed.

He still has great points and layers of useful information in just the first five pages of his new book. And I want to believe that he is simply sculpting his message to be accessible to a larger audience rather than the local food zealot I've become as a result of his previous book, Omnivore's Dilemma. Time will tell as he's speaking all over the country in the next few months.

In any event, I'm reading the new book and sticking with local foods as much as I can. It's one thing I can do.


Anonymous said...

My book hasn't arrived yet out here in the boonies, but...what you are saying, Katrina, kind of echoes what I felt about OD. I thought he could've been a bit more polemical, taken a tougher stand, and I doubt it'd lost readers on that score at all.

Maybe we're all seeking some kind of bright light to lead us all out of the darkness. Maybe he is trimming his own sails a bit for a few more sales. Maybe this book will be just good enough, though, to make the average American think, just a tiny bit, about what they eat. One can hope, anyway!


Melinda said...

Bummer. I hate it when that happens. I've met a few people I really admired while making films, and once I got a little closer they let me down. I guess nobody is perfect, but geez - bananas?!

My book is in the mail now. I keep picking up the Omnivore's Dilemma to read it, but I haven't yet made it through more than about 1/3. I think it's because I hear so much about it, and know a lot of the information that's in it, so I almost feel like I've already read it. I have (or had?) high hopes for this next one, though!

kale for sale said...

El - I do think his new book will have people thinking as did OD. The book review in the Chronicle headlined his latest review Eat Food Your Great Great Grandmother would recognize. All good news but after hearing another interview with him on Talk of the Nation he is not talking about the environmental impact of shipping food at all. Which makes me crazy and I also love what it is he is saying.

Melinda - Keep your hopes high. It's still a good book. I just had such all emcompassing expectations of it. It's also a quicker read then Omnivore. I forget if the first third of OD was the bit about corn but to this day my friends will not talk to me about corn. If you haven't read that I recommend skipping it or promising yourself to not include corn in food conversations at dinner parties. The cute guy has learned to change the subject while I bite my lip.

Melinda said...

LOL, El. Have you seen the movie King Korn?

Melinda said...

That didn't come out right. Boy, I'm sick today and my brain isn't working right. What I meant to write was:

El, I agree that Michael Pollan is probably thinking about how to reign in the people that haven't thought about this stuff before.

And Katrina, my book arrived today. I'm jumping into it with a cup of tea. I already like the way it reads. And about corn - have you seen the movie King Korn? Thought you might like it.

That's better. Going to stop writing now and stick to reading while I'm sick!

kale for sale said...

Melinda -- I haven't seen King Korn - YET!

I hope you're feeling better.