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Copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma
Transcript of Copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma
“I was tired. I’d spent the afternoon making hay, really just lending a hand to a farmer making hay, and after a few hours in the midday sun hoisting and throwing fifty-pound bales onto a hay wagon, I hurt” (123).
“I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods nearly as much as I enjoy browsing a good bookstore…Shopping at Whole Foods is a literary experience…It’s the evocative prose as much as anything else that makes this food really special, elevating an egg or chicken breast or bag of arugula from the realm of ordinary…into a much headier experience, one with complex aesthetic, emotional, and even political dimensions” (134)
Pollan uses logos to support his thesis:
“By the end of the season Salatin’s grasses will have been transformed by his anumals into some 25,000 pounds of beef, 50,000 pounds of pork, 12,000 broilers, 800 turkeys, 500 rabbits, and 30,000 dozen eggs” (126).
“Plants grown in synthetically fertilized soils are less nourishing than ones grown in composted soils; such plants are more vulnerable to diseases and insect pests; polycultures are more productive and less prone to disease than monocultures” (151)
Pollan uses personification to more easily convey how he views grass:
Pollan gives grass human qualities, saying that they are clever in their adaptations to the environment; that they allowed us, the humans, to “vanquish” the trees for them. Basically, “we’re playing right into its strategy for world domination, by helping it outcompete the shrubs and trees” (129).
Pollan uses pathos to appeal to the emotions of his readers:
Pollan illustrates Joel’s family history, and ends chapter 10 with a quote from Joel: “But you want to know when I miss him the most? When I see thick hay and earthworm casting and slick cows, all the progress we’ve made since he left us. Oh, how proud he would be to see this place now!” (207).
Pollan uses repetition throughout these chapters to emphasize the mentality of many farmers: “Everything eventually morphs into the way the world is” (168). Polyface Farm Joel Salatin/small farms- localized market:
“We sell to all kinds of people. Second, whenever I hear people say clean food is expensive, I tell them it’s actually the cheapest food you can buy. Then I explain that with our food all of the costs are figured into the price. Society is not bearing the cost of water pollution, of antibiotic resistance, of food-borne illnesses, of crop subsidies, of subsidized oil and water-of all the hidden costs to the environment and the taxpayer that make cheap food seem cheap” (243).
“Meat would be considerably cheaper than it is if not for government regulations and the resulting high cost of processing-at least a dollar cheaper per pound” (243).
“Our food system depends on consumers’ not knowing much about it beyond the price disclosed by the checkout scanner” (245).
USDA/industrial farms- globalized market:
“Industrial farmers are in the business of selling commodities, a business where the only viable competitive strategy is to be the least-cost producer” (249).
“The classic way any industrial producer lowers the costs of his product is by substituting capital-new technologies and fossil-fuel energy-for skilled labor and then stepping up production, exploiting the economies of scale to compensate for shrinking profit margins. In a commodity business a producer must sell ever more cheaply and grow bigger or be crushed by a competitor who does” (249). Pastoral Grass •In a nut shell, Michael Pollan argues that the “organic industrial” approach to the cultivation and distribution of crops is a contradiction of terms; the “better” method of farming is epitomized and demonstrated by Joel Salatin, a true organic farmer (though he despises the word “organic”).
•Pure organic farming is the best way to produce crops; anti organic industry
•The meaning of “organic” has been skewed over time
•Grass is a key element in farming, and it is a better alternative to corn
•Organic food is better in many ways compared to food that is produced with pesticides and other artificial means •We believe that farms like Joel Salatin’s Polyface Inc represent the ideal way of farming. A decentralized, local system of grass-based farming seems the ultimate solution to our nation’s food crisis because the symbiotic relationships, with no need for fertilizers or pesticides, result in healthy, nutrient rich products.
•The term “organic”, as advertising is misleading, and big industrial corporations can gain the label “organic” much more easily than small farms.
•However, these small non-industrial farms are in fact, small. It is unreasonable to think that the government and USDA will suddenly stop favoring the big industrial companies.
•The responsibility then lies on the individual. Eating this way may be more difficult and requires more effort and time than many people are willing to put into food.
•Search for and research local farmers to find the best available produce, dairy, seafood, and meat.
•Support restaurants using local ingredients.
•Spend time cooking in the kitchen. Abhishek Dekate, Haeju Son,
Sagar Gire, and Hojun Song USDA Counterargument What is Polyface Farm? “The chicken feed not only feeds the broilers but, transformed into chicken crap, feeds the grass that feeds the cows that feed[s] the pigs and the laying hens” (210).
“In nature you’ll always find birds following herbivores. The egret perched on the rhino’s nose, the pheasants and turkeys trailing after the bison-that’s a symbiotic relationship we’re trying to imitate” (211)
“In each case the birds dine on the insects that would otherwise bother the herbivore; they also pick insect larvae and parasites out of the animal’s droppings, breaking the cycle of infestation and disease” (211). Size Matters “It’s all connected. This farm is more like an organism than a machine, and like any organism it has its proper scale” (213).
“With the industrialization of agriculture, the simplifying process reached its logical extreme in monoculture. This radical specialization permitted standardization and mechanization, leading to the leaps in efficiency claimed by industrial agriculture. Of course, how you choose to measure efficiency makes all the difference, and industrial agriculture measures it, simply, by the yield of one chosen species per acre of land or farmer” (214). Inventions The Eggmobile
“Because of the Eggmobile, Joel doesn’t have to run his cattle through a headgate to slather Ivomectrin, a systemic parasiticide, on their hides or worm them with toxic chemicals” (212).
Provides shade for turkeys during the day, and serves as a bed for the turkeys at night. Slaughter Joel slaughters animals out in the open and doesn't try to hide this process. He slaughters his animals in a humane way, which causes a minimal amount of pain for the animals. None of his animals are nervous or scared when they are up for slaughter, as they have no reason to be. Basic Regulations:
A processing facility must have white walls so they can be washed down between shifts.
All doors and windows must have screens.
Every processing facility must have a bathroom for the exclusive use of the USDA inspector.
“USDA regulations spell out precisely what sort of facility and system is permissible, but they don’t set thresholds for food-borne pathogens” (229).
“Every government study to date has shown that the reasons we’re having an epidemic of food-bone illness in this country is centralized production, centralized processing, and long-distance transportation of food” (230). Tail Cropping •The intentional removal of an animal’s tail.
•“Piglets are weaned from their mother ten days after birth (compared with thirteen weeks in nature) because they gain weight faster on their drug-fortified feed than on sow’s milk. But this premature weaning leaves the pigs with a lifelong craving to suck and chew, a need they gratify in confinement by biting the tail of the animal in front of them. “Learned helplessness” is the psychological term, and its not uncommon in CAFOs, where tens of thousands of hogs spend their entire lives ignorant of earth or sunshine” (218). Basically, locally grown food not grown with the aid of pesticides, while more expensive, is best.
Pollan's meal prepared after his visit to Polyface Farm was both delicious and had better nutritional value, and well worth the extra money. Michael Pollan uses Joel Salatin’s farm Polyface as the focus of this section to illustrate the ideal method of farming and raising animals. A tangible, detailed example of such a successful farm convinces readers to support this type of bio-diverse farm.
“What had been cow manure and woodchips just a few weeks before now smelled as sweet and warm as the forest floor in summertime, a miracle of transubstantiation. As soon as the pigs complete their alchemy, Joel will spread the compost on his pastures. There it will feed the grasses, so the grasses might again feed the cows, the cows the chickens, and so on until the snow falls, in one long beautiful, and utterly convincing proof that in a world where grass can eat sunlight and food animals can eat grass, there is indeed a free lunch” (219)
He portrays Joel as a brilliant, eccentric, fanatic man dedicated to his cause - so much so that he becomes a vivid character, despite this being a nonfiction work. “Salatin’s broad-brimmed hat did more than protect his neck and face from the Virginia sun: It declared a political and aesthetic stance, one descended from Virgil through Jefferson with a detour through the sixties counterculture” (125)
Many religious references, for example calling Joel’s followers his “parishioners”, seem to liken Joel to a saintlike figure, while at the same time, Pollan encourages readers to despise the USDA and its support of industrial ways. •Pollan provides a gruesome example of industrial animal cruelty: “Tail docking is the USDA’s recommended solution to the porcine “vice” of tail chewing. Using a pair of pliers and not anesthetic, most- but no quite all the tail is snipped off... Now a bite to the tail is so painful that even the most demoralized pig will struggle to resist it” (218).
•Pollan often appeals to the reader’s intelligence- presenting this farm as the logical solution to our nation’s food crisis - and gives many diverse reasons to support a bio-diverse, local farm. He explains, often in very specific, scientific detail, the unique aspects of the interdependency of the farm.
•“When you think about it, it is odd that something as important to as our health and general well-being as food is so often sold so strictly on the basis of price” (244).
•“Part of the problem is, you’ve got a lot of D students left on the farm today...It’s a foolish culture that entrusts its food to simpletons” (221). Animal Cruelty
“Pig happiness is simply the by-product of treating a pig as a pig rather than as a ‘protein machine with flaws” (219)
“Most of the time pests and disease are just nature’s way of telling the farmer he’s doing something wrong” (221)
“These birds do a more effective job of sanitizing a pasture than anything human, mechanical, or chemical, and the chickens love doing it” (212)
“Meat, eggs, and milk from pastured animals contain higher levels of omega-3s, essential fatty acids...indispensable in human health” (267)
Personal testimony from Polyface customers and Pollan himself describe the distinct flavors of the produce and meat.Local chefs “seldom argued price and wrote checks right on the spot and clearly appreciated their work, and very often, acknowledged it right on their menus: “Polyface Farm Chicken” (253) How to Eat “Beyond Organic” •Weekly Farmer’s Markets around Toronto! Many critics of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma claim that: “We can't all go off the grid like Salatin, nor can we just wish away 200 years of industrialization. So what to do? Is the ever-growing organic-food industry already on the right path? Or is more radical action needed? Should the Department of Justice break up giant, soil-exhausting factory farms into small, self-sustaining polycultural organic farms” (David Kamp, The New York Times) http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_pollan_gives_a_plant_s_eye_view.html •Polyface attempts to “put real live grass under the old agrarian-pastoral ideal”(125).
•On Polyface, the animals do most of the work.
•Cows graze grass -> Chickens clean up after cows -> Spread manure and eliminate parasites (no need for pesticides).
•Polyface is an alternative farm, NOT organic. Joel does not use the o-word because he refutes the USDA’s new regulations. Organic Foods? •The organic movement has grown into an $11 billion industry that is now the fastest growing sector of the food economy.
•Markets such as Whole Foods offer may organic products: “certified organic (no chemicals),” “humanely raised,” and “free range”(134).
•Farms enhance their products with agrarian imagery and “authentic” organic biographies in order to vie for consumers’ attention.
•As Whole Foods has grown globally, a need has arisen for more industrial distribution system, making it impractical to support small farms.
•Gene Kahn’s Cascadian Farm, originally self-owned and called the New Cascadian Survival and Reclamation Project is today a subsidiary of General Mills.
•Kahn says, “everything eventually morphs into the way the world is”(152). “You have a choice of getting sad about all that or moving on. We tried hard to build a cooperative community and a local food system, but at the end of the day it wasn’t successful.”(153)
•In 1990, Congress passed the Organic Food and Production Act (OFPA), which established “uniform national standards for organic food and farming”(154).
•Big Organic companies had greater influence on these standards and “the final standards ignored the 1990 law, drawing up a list of permissible additives and synthetics from ascorbic acid to xanthan gum”(156).
•“The word ‘organic’ has been stretched and twisted to admit the very sort of industrial practices for which it once offered a critique and an alternative. •“Grass farmers grow animals– for meat, eggs, milk, and wool– but regard them as part of a food chain in which grass is the keystone species, the nexus between the solar energy that powers every food chain and the animals we eat”(188).
•This is the model at Joel Salatin’s Polyface. At Polyface natural conditions are adhered to as closely as possible, very few artificial inputs are used, and waste products are recycled back into the system.
•“If sixteen million acres now being used to grow corn to feed cows in the United States became well-managed pasture, that would remove fourteen billion pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year”(198).
•Our society values “consistency, mechanization, predictability, interchangeability, and economies of scale”(201). Naylor Farm:
Myriad inputs Polyface Farm:
Chicken feed In Comparison... Organic Chef: Chef Al Rosas Chef Al Rosas is a leader and innovator in preserving Artisan foods and sustainable family farming. An expert organic trending and ingredient driven meals, Chef Al is a visionary leader in the booming farm to plate movement. Through food, education, fun and family farming, Chef Al brings the best of ingredients home, back to the family table, helping to sustain real foods for our future generations. Chef Rosas spends his time with his wife and children at his all grass-fed organic beef, bison, wild boar and poultry farm in Florida. He and his wife own a number of Eco-businesses including an organic product procurement and specialty foods operation located in Marion County Florida. Rosas Farms products are now distributed wholesale by SYSCO Foods of Florida but are always available at his farm market. Also on the farm is Chef Al's Eco-Retreat. What is an "Industrial Eater"? This is our perspective on Grass, what is yours? An industrial eater is a person whose diet consists of processed foods. The scary thing is that most, if not all of us, are industrial eaters. We like how cheap processed food is, the lack of cooking, and the salty, sweet artificial taste. The scary thing about industrial eating is that it is trying to remove the market from nature, and make the supply of food not dependent on the size of the world’s various crops. ORGANIC FOODS! Has Michael Pollan changed our outlook on eating habits? We learned that industrial farms use a lot of chemicals linked to serious diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease to help animals grow quickly; less effort is put into mass production. The organic system is safer and more humane for livestock. Therefore, we got influenced to buying organic productions What would we cook if Michael Pollan came over for dinner? If Micheal Pollan were to come over for dinner, we would plan a dinner menu that uses fresh, organic ingredients. We would try to emulate his experience and try to do as much as we could on our own. We would most likely use free-range chicken from a local farm, and buy other ingredients at a local farmers market. The only things we would do differently would be dessert.