Michael Pollan: Bad food is costing America its economic health

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/12/08/michael_pollan_partner/

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” author on diabetes’ strain on Obamacare, and why our eating habits are worse than ever

, Earth Island Journal
Sunday, Dec 8, 2013

Michael Pollan’s garden lives up to expectations. There is, naturally, a vegetable patch. He’s got a couple of well-loved stalks of lacinato kale, a few unruly tomato plants piled above a clump of basil. The borders are eco-stylish for the microclimate of Berkeley, California: a mix of native grasses and drought-tolerant succulents, blue on purple. One corner is dedicated to cooking equipment – there’s a gas grill and a wood smoker, too. The yard resembles Pollan’s own prose. It says a lot in a small amount of space.

Our interview took place in early autumn. The wisteria vine climbing the front of the house had gone to seed, and every once in a while the long, brown pods snapped open with a crack. “They don’t just fall, they explode,” Pollan warned, joking, “they could hurt somebody.” A small, black, feral cat nosed about the BBQ gear. Pollan said he had tried to domesticate it, but that it has resisted his advances.

The feral cat seemed, in classic Pollan form, a tidy, little symbol for something bigger – in this case a symbol for the predictably strange relationship between humans and the natural world, which has been an enduring theme of Pollan’s 25-year career. Pollan is best known as a food journalist. But his primary interest is something deeper: the question of how to balance our civilization’s drive for control with nature’s insistence on wildness. Pollan’s first book, the precocious Second Nature, was a profound meditation on humans’ place in the world, disguised as a book about rose care and lawn maintenance. He followed that with the often-hilarious The Botany of Desire and the blockbuster The Omnivore’s Dilemma. This consistently provocative and entertaining body of work has earned Pollan huge praise, including a place on Time’s list of the most influential people on the planet.

Having established himself as an authority on food and agriculture, Pollan now has to navigate the challenges of being both a journalist and an advocate. He’s managed to do this, he says, through a commitment to always being fair, especially to those with whom he disagrees. “To sympathize – that’s part of the job of the journalist,” he says.

It’s a value, come to think of it, that one often learns in the garden.

— Jason Mark

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/12/08/michael_pollan_partner/

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