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Author Michael Pollan Explains the War on Food Movement

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Ian Brown sits down with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and god of the food movement

IAN BROWN: Why is there a backlash against foodies, in favor of Big Agriculture?

MICHAEL POLLAN: You know how journalists work. They like to set up that kind of tension. But I think it's not that simple."

IB: The Economist declares war between Big Agriculture on the one hand and small-scale sustainable farming on the other. The magazines claims the latter can never feed the world, not with 9 billion people by 2050.

MP: There are people in the food movement who aim to replace Big Ag with Small Ag. But I think there are many more people in the food movement who seek to reform Big Ag. And to cast it as a choice between the small, diversified, sustainable farm and the highly productive massified farm is a false choice. Where does Wal Mart fit in that? Wal Mart is interested in localizing its production right now, and they're doing a lot of things to do that. They are going to big farmers and trying to get them to change the way they behave. There's a lot of movement to get antibiotics out of production in animal farming. And that's not about breaking those farms up into tiny little units. That's about reforming the way they do business. So if you cast it as an either/or--if Big Ag is the only way you can feed the world, and I'm not willing to concede that, I don't think it's proven, though it is asserted--then that frees Big Ag to do whatever it feels it needs to do to continue to be big and productive. I think it's a way to take the focus off them and off the fact that many of their ways of doing business are completely unsustainable and brutal and unjust. It's an interesting formulation, but I just don't accept it. 


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