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farming needs all the bright minds it can get

Posted: November 11 2011

(Photo credit: Jahi Chikwendiu)
Michael Pollan: On the Steve Jobs of agriculture

Washington Post. November 4, 2011. By Michael Pollan may have one of the hardest jobs in the country: trying to encourage Americans to eat better — or at least better understand the current food system and how it has led to a diet that’s slowly making us sick.The author and activist’s work sometimes leads him away from his computer and to venues like the Strathmore, where late last month he managed to pull off a careful balancing act. Pollan had to explain modern food manufacturing and complex agricultural policies while simultaneously keeping a music hall full of people entertained. He used props from the supermarket (sometimes known as processed foods). He used humor. He even used scare tactics.

On stage, he’s sort of like the Gallagher of the food movement, smashing old concepts instead of old vegetables.
I had a chance to sit down with Pollan for about 40 minutes before his Strathmore talk, which wasn’t nearly enough time to broach all the questions I had for him. Below is an edited excerpt of our conversation, the first of several planned for the All We Can Eat blog.
All We Can Eat: At an earlier stop on your tour, you told a Cleveland audience, “Really intelligent young people are getting into farming. Some will crash and burn, but someone will be the Steve Jobs of agriculture.” What do you imagine the Steve Jobs of agriculture will look like?
Michael Pollan: [Laughs.] I think the challenge is going to be to come up with farming systems that are sustainable, by which I mean don’t require a lot of fossil fuel and that are nevertheless quite intensive. The ability to produce large amounts of food in small spaces.
We have some examples. I think Joel Salatin is a possible contender.Will Allen, the urban farmer who has a very complex system involving fish and greens and other vegetables, where fish waste feeds the greens and the greens clean the water for the fish. So I’m talking about people who can come up with new rotations and new relationships between species to maximize production. I think there is a lot of experimenting going on.
Finish the article HERE.
red hook, new york


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