FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why are Farmers Afraid of Michael Pollan?

by JIM GOODMAN

Author Michael Pollan is no stranger to controversy. He has broadened the discussion of what we eat, where and how it is grown, big vs. small, organic farming vs. conventional. When he speaks some in the audience will love him, some will not.

Advocates of large scale agriculture see Pollan as the enemy, they believe he stands against everything they see as the future of agriculture. Pollan however is not an absolutist, his basic premise is that people need to think more about their food; where it was grown, how it was grown, was the farmer paid fairly, is it good for you?

Pollan wants people to think about cooking, about food freshness and flavor, about the dinner table as more than a “filling station”.

Knowing your food is not a radical concept, and it should not be a frightening concept. Knowledge is power, the more we know, the better choices we can make.

Farmers should have nothing to hide, and those most upset with Pollan’s theories on eating, tout their large scale farming methods as being models of efficiency, environmental protection, animal welfare and safe food.

Still, they fear his thoughts being mainstream. Granted, Pollan is not a farmer, and does not know all the intricacies of farming; he does not claim to. However, those who denounce him do not know the intricacies of the local, regional and organic farming he advocates.

So, why are they afraid of what he has to say? Pollan admits there is no one right way to farm, there is no one system that will work for all farmers. He maintains that all farmers need to make a living yet be mindful of how they farm, how they raise their animals and how they maintain the environment. If Pollan has an argument with agriculture, it is not with farmers, it is with agribusiness.

Author Wendell Berry notes that “Agribusiness is immensely more profitable than agriculture”. Any farmer knows that the corporate owners of seed, chemicals, fertilizer and the buyers of grain, livestock and milk always seem to make a profit; farmers do not.

Over the past 60 years farmers have seen competition in the market place steadily disappear as corporate mergers concentrated all aspects of agriculture into the hands of a few multinational corporations.

Their profit comes at the expense of the farmer, the farm worker, consumer safety and the environment.

While farmers defend themselves against what they see as an attack by Pollan, they are really defending agribusiness. When they say they love their Roundup Ready corn, the hormones and the chemicals they are promoting the corporations that always make a profit whether the farmers win or lose.

When farmers disparage small-scale ecological agriculture because it “will never feed the world” they conveniently forget that conventional agriculture has not fed the world either, despite 60 years of promises to do so. They also ignore the findings of IAASTD that indicate the old paradigm of industrial agriculture is a thing of the past.

The industrial model sources food from the world, pits farmer against farmer in a race to the bottom. Globalized commodities converted into processed nutritionally empty foods, make corporations rich, Americans obese, and developing countries destitute .

Pollan just wants farmers and consumers to think. Agribusiness is rich and persuasive, they own both ends of the market place and they want to keep it that way. When people think about what they eat and what they grow, chances are, eventually, they will make the right choice.

JIM GOODMAN is a farmer from Wonewoc WI and an IATP Food and Society Fellow.

 

More articles by:

Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin.

Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jonathan Cook
From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Louis Proyect
The Witchfinders
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
David Yearsley
On the Road to Rochester, By Bike
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail