A diet of contemporary sunshine

Food guru Michael Pollan has another must read article –this time an open letter to the next American president explaining why food is the political issue he will be spending most of this time in the White House on – including its integral relationship to climate change, peak oil, foreign and trade policies, health care and social justice.

This, in brief, is the bad news: The food and agriculture policies you’ve inherited — designed to maximize production at all costs and relying on cheap energy to do so — are in shambles, and the need to address the problems they have caused is acute. The good news is that the twinned crises in food and energy are creating a political environment in which real reform of the food system may actually be possible for the first time in a generation. The American people are paying more attention to food today than they have in decades, worrying not only about its price but about its safety, its provenance and its healthfulness. There is a gathering sense among the public that the industrial-food system is broken. Markets for alternative kinds of food — organic, local, pasture-based, humane — are thriving as never before.

And the solution is breathtakingly simple:

There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I’m urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: We need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine…. the sun still shines down on our land every day, and photosynthesis can still work its wonders wherever it does. If any part of the modern economy can be freed from its dependence on oil and successfully resolarized, surely it is food.

As well as some detailed policy prescriptions Pollan suggests symbolic gesture:

Since enhancing the prestige of farming as an occupation is critical to developing the sun-based regional agriculture we need, the White House should appoint, in addition to a White House chef, a White House farmer. This new post would be charged with implementing what could turn out to be your most symbolically resonant step in building a new American food culture. And that is this: Tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden.

I’d love to see a bed of kumara growing out the front of the Beehive too.

11 thoughts on “A diet of contemporary sunshine

  1. I find it fascinating that no-one has commented on this thread yet, given the importance of the issue of food production and the need for action on this front, particularly in light of the ‘big picture’ of toughening economic times and threats to food and seed, but there we are, entranced by the wriggling of string and the antics of our politicians. Perhaps everyone is outside planting their gardens. I’m on Stewart Island, helping to establish an orchard complete with ponds, pigs, chickens, permaculture-style.

  2. How hard can this be? This is, perhaps, the biggest issue we face globally, even more so with the current economic crisis. Focussing policies on relocalisation of our food could ease a lot of the financial pressure which will face many households.

  3. Do you people have any ideas which don’t involve having the state making our decisions for us and telling us what to do?

  4. I like In defence Of Food Michael Pollan but he’s barking up the wrong tree.
    The US government is controlled by Big Ag, Big Food, Big Fert, Big Pharmer and a few other bigs and the last thing they want is the citizens of the US growing their own food. He’d be better off trying to convince the people to grow food instead of the govn.
    I never read his letter this is only a reply to what is written above

  5. Nowadays this is one of the most problems in all over the world when our world is in the economic crisis. The government should make some important decisions of food production, because this issue is very important for many people. I am glad to see that the American people are paying more attention to food today.

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