Something I read today

This article from the Utne Reader was posted over at Deb's Lunch the other day. Intrigued by the sub-header (Why Michael Pollan Makes Me Want to Eat Cheetos), I printed it off and gave it a read.

The article is well conceived, and Julie Guthman (UC-Santa Cruz) presents a good argument against the "tone" of Michael Pollan's book. Her point that "fat people bear the weight" when it comes to public conversation about food and food policy is well taken. Pollan's book does seem to suggest that WE are fat because we are too stupid to eat the foods that would keep us thin.

Dr. Guthman also cautions the latest "food movements" against an anti-regulatory approach to food politics... the sense of apolitical privilege that tends to oppress.

Got me thinking.
And so, I ask: Are we, as locovores, a bunch of smug, self-righteous (and PC) idiots? No, we don't have to be. In fact, I'd argue that it's vital that we NOT be.

One of the biggest things I've struggled with, when it comes to my support of "local" and "organic" is that it's a difficult topic to discuss without coming off as completely judgmental. It's also become an increasingly difficult topic as organic farms get BIGGER and more industrialized. It's a tough thing. For me, this is a very personal issue in a great many ways -- those of you who know me probably know that. Lately, I've been pondering the issues of availability and access when it comes to organic food, and it's leading me to some pretty interesting reading. Food and social justice, it seems, are inextricably tied... and it seems Pollan, in all of his wisdom, seems to have neglected that small truth.


Anonymous said...


I think that some ARE smug and self-righteous but many (like you) are definitely not.

I wonder if Pollan has a solution for those of us living in the arctic north (aka "the Promised Land") - especially during the long winter months...


Lo said...

Well, you've certainly been canning all summer long in anticipation of the long winter, haven't you?

(this from the girl who irrationally freezes everything, for fear of giving someone botulism) :)

In all seriousness, I don't recall that Pollan DOES address this issue -- though I may revisit the book to find out.

Rebecca said...

(don't know why I checked "anonymous" last time.)

Unfortunately I didn't even have a garden last summer :( - the irony is that we live here surrounded by farmlands and can't even get locally grown produce during the summer!!

The philosophy is good - especially for one who lives in Berkeley, CA. ; )

Jess said...

Todd and I both just read that article, though neither of us has read the Pollan book. (Right now we're both making our way through Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). I have to agree that sometimes locovores CAN be smug and self-righteous...alas even Kingsolver at times...but not all (and especially NOT you!). In this case, I can see the wisdom of the "catch more flies with honey" approach--instead of chastising people for what they don't do, or blaming the "deluded masses," some advocates might do better to present the local-eating alternative as attractive and relatively easy, and provide reasonable small steps and advice to follow.

That's not to say it's entirely a breeze! Over the past year we've been really trying to pay attention to this (shopping mostly at farmer's markets has been our best tactic), but it's not easy in Canada, in the winter, in a high-rise. I know that we could always do more, but winter is befuddling!

Lo said...

Agreed. Winter is the most difficult time to eat locally here in Wisconsin as well. We've found that eating "as close to" home as possible is a more attainable goal. We did stockpile a bit of local fare from farmer's markets and our garden this summer -- but it wasn't nearly enough to sustain us for the winter. Plus, we do crave fresh foods every now and again!

I'm sure our efforts will evolve as time goes on. So, I'm excited to see where that takes us!

Lo said...

Hey Rebecca -
Just ran across these hints/tips for locovores over at the "daily green". Am not sure how much they really help with suggestions for local eating in "The Promised Land". But, I thought you might be interested!