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.