My much delayed Michael Pollan notes

Thursday, February 10th.
Santa Barbara.
Granada Theatre.

The format was an approximate hour long conversation between Michael Pollan and Renée Montagne from NPR, followed by a 30-minute Q&A with the audience, and finally a book signing (which, thankfully, was not as crowded as I thought it would be considering how packed the theatre was).

This is what I scrawled furiously in the margins of my program:

-Wal-Mart is THE grocer in America, particularly for those making $40,000 or less

-“Healthy processed food” is often a trap because people will then eat more

-McDonalds improved slaughterhouse conditions, specifically the killing of the cows, and stopped using GM potatoes. (Note: After looking this last claim up, I found that both Wendy’s and Frito-Lay have also rejected GM crops.)

-Government is not allowed to say “eat less ________; they can only say eat more _______.”

-75% of healthcare spending goes to chronic diseases

  • Youth-diagnosed Type II Diabetes costs insurers an average of $400,000 over the lifetime of the person
  • If healthcare reform survives, insurers could become a powerful ally

-20% of our fossil fuel use is for food

-Organic farming, without the benefit of subsidies, is approaching 80%-90% yield

  • Smart rotations are key
  • Conventional farmers receive approximately $20 billion in subsidies

-We are currently growing enough to feed 11 billion people–if it weren’t for the food we feed animals

-One-third of all food is thrown away

-There is a libertarian streak in the food movement

-Pastured > organic when it comes to meat; There are organic factory farms

-7:10 gallons of water are used for food production

-There are only 1 million full-time farmers in the U.S. (Current U.S. population is more than 311 million people meaning every 1 farmer is expected to feed just over 311 people.)


A handful of some of the night’s best quotes:

“Resiliency comes from diversity.”

“We need to glamorize farming. We need to make not eating meat as glamorous as eating it is.”

“Most doctors know very little about nutrition. It’s treated as women’s work or a second-class science. Just as we need to include it in a 6th grade curriculum, it needs to be included in the medical school curriculum. We need to go from pharmacology to farmacology.” [Note: Pollan didn’t coin that term. An audience member asking a question did.]

“I think if you can buy cigarettes, you should be able to buy raw milk.”

“We eat in our cars. We eat standing up in the kitchen. We demean the whole food experience.”

“The catastrophe of the American diet.”

“I don’t think we solve this problem without engaging the schools. I would argue that teaching food literacy is just as important as math and science.”

“Our homes and our lives are the battlefront. In what other arena do you get to express and support your values everyday? You won’t always get it right; accept that. None of us will. But if you can get it right most of the time, it matters.”

About J.

A former twentysomething with a head full of curls and heart full of questions wondering: when we get to nirvana, will there be food?
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