Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Think Michael Pollan Is Trying To Tell Us Something

Here's Michael Pollan on NPR this morning discussing the selection of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to head the USDA:
Michael Pollan On Vilsack, Agriculture — And Food

Some Background

On October 12, before the election that positioned Barak Obama to be the 44th President of the US, Michael Pollan published a 9-page open letter to the unknown (but in many circles presumed) President-Elect:

Farmer In Chief, NYTs Magazine, October 12, 2008

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

The era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close... Food is about to demand your attention.

Unless you [not simply address food prices, but make reform of the entire food system one of the highest priorities of your administration], you will not be able to make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change. ... As you try to address them you will quickly discover that the way we currently grow, process and eat food in America goes to the heart of all three problems."
Bill Moyers said:
"That article triggered such a response that an online movement has sprung up calling on President-elect Obama to name Michael Pollan Secretary of Agriculture."

So, on November 28, Bill Moyers, letter in hand, sat down with Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and professor of journalism at UC Berkeley) to discuss his vision for food policy, and how that policy has been colliding with policies for energy, healthcare, and the environment.

Moyers asked Pollan if he would accept the job of Secretary of Agriculture. Pollan replied:
"It's not for me. I would be so bad at this job. I have an understanding of my strengths and limitations."
Pollan went on to say much more. Here's the rest of Moyer's interview:
Bill Moyers Journal: Michael Pollan

It's long, so here's the interview in pieces on YouTube:
Part 1 (9:52 minutes)
Part 2 (10.14 minutes)
Part 3 (9.39 minutes)
Part 4 (10.08 minutes)
Part 5 (4.54 minutes)

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