Industrial V.S. Pastoral

Topics: Agriculture, Polyface Farm, Joel Salatin Pages: 3 (1102 words) Published: December 11, 2011
No other book has ever made me want to be a farmer more (or at all) than The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. No other book has placed such a dark cloud of doom and gloom over such a seemingly simple topic such as food production. I’m of course not talking about two identical models. One model is of industrial agriculture contrasted by pastoral agriculture. In his research Michael Pollan visited farms of both styles, got to know the onsite operations, followed the food to its ultimate destination, and finally ate a meal created with the very ingredients he spent a week investigating.

Michael describes the farm owned by George Naylor, which is of the industrial model, as being fairly easy in terms of manual labor but extremely difficult in the detective work. Detective work usually isn’t something that gets brought up often when talking about farms; here it is referring to the journalistic tracking that Michael Pollan had to do with Mr. Naylor’s staple crop - corn. The difficulty in following a bushel of corn from the Naylor farm is his corn, along with the majority of corn grown in the U.S., will eventually wind up in practically everything we eat and use. He does a fabulous job of painting a picture of this river of corn and how it ebbs and flows throughout our lives eroding any dietary connection we once might have had to nature. Nature is after all a system based on diversity and here we see an entire nation built on and fueled by a single plant. The carbon in our flesh has even been tested and the findings were we are, after water, predominately corn. I was starting to think that there were too many chapters in this book about corn! It just kept going and going but once I realized how much it is entwined in our lives and how perhaps this is the only account of someone illuminating that truth it started to seem necessary. As those carbon tests showed we are what we eat, Pollan shows in his book we are what we eat eats. Just as diversity is the spice...
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