Michael Pollan on the Food Movement, Rising

union square farmers market photo
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Farmers Market, Union Square, New York City: Photo by Lloyd Alter

On the pretext of reviewing five books on food and food politics, Michael Pollan writes a long and interesting essay in the New York Review of Books.

He writes that "Cheap food has become an indispensable pillar of the modern economy. But it is no longer an invisible or uncontested one. One of the most interesting social movements to emerge in the last few years is the "food movement," or perhaps I should say "movements," since it is unified as yet by little more than the recognition that industrial food production is in need of reform because its social/environmental/public health/animal welfare/gastronomic costs are too high."

union square farmers market photo

But he acknowledges that food activists share a big lumpy tent, and are often working at cross purposes, some against regulation, some for more of it, some for vegetarianism and some for happy meat. And of course,

For some in the movement, the more urgent problem is environmental: the food system consumes more fossil fuel energy than we can count on in the future (about a fifth of the total American use of such energy) and emits more greenhouse gas than we can afford to emit, particularly since agriculture is the one human system that should be able to substantially rely on photosynthesis: solar energy. It will be difficult if not impossible to address the issue of climate change without reforming the food system

It is long but important reading at the New York Review of Books.