Monday, March 21, 2011

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Upon reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, the enormity of the business behind the bacon became abundantly clear.  My area of focus for the purpose of this blog is the second section, which deals mostly with the characteristics and origins of the organic food market.  The modern organic movement, according to Mr. Pollan, traces its roots to the cultural revolution of the 1960s.  “The Organic movement…has deep roots in the sixties’ radicalism” (141).  A natural lifestyle was a key aspect of the hippy principles so these origins come as no surprise.  Pollan was fortunate to get to travel the organic farms across America and gain a first hand perspective on the industry.  One such organic farm was Polyface.  This farm emphasized the development of natural ecosystems to create functioning plant and animal production.  Essentially they allow nature to take care of nature.  Grass, however, proved to be the most vital component of this circle of organic life.  It serves as both a cleaning food source, producing healthy animals, and vital in maintaining fertile soil.  “Grass, so understood, is the foundation of the intricate food chain Salatin has assembled at Polyface, where a half dozen different animal species are raised together in an intensive rotational dance on the theme of symbiosis” (126).  Though just having organic farming practices will not prove effective if not coupled with developing local markets.  As one farmer told Pollen, “Just because we can ship organic lettuce from the Salinas Valley, or organic cut flowers from Peru, doesn’t mean we should do it, not if we’re really serious about energy and seasonality and bioregionalism.  I’m afraid if you want to try on of our chickens, you’re going to have to drive down here to Swoope to pick it up” (133). 
We must understand that at the end of the day food production is an industry, almost a living-breathing organism in its own way.  Consumer demand for an organic industry is dramatically changing the industry.  “The word ‘organic’ has proved to be the most powerful words in the supermarket: Without any help from the government, farmers and consumers working together in this way have built an $11 billion industry that is now the fastest growing sector of the food economy” (136).  As informed and concerned consumers, it is our responsibily to sustain this growth and ensure our food’s quality in the future.  DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN!!!


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