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Big Food: Michael Pollan Thinks Wall Street Has Way Too Much Influence Over What We Eat

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In 2008, food writer Michael Pollan published an open letter to President-Elect Barack Obama. He began with a warning. "It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food."

Take climate change. "After cars," Pollan wrote, "the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy." As for health-care reform, the chronic diseases forcing spending ever upward are rooted in the way Americans eat. "You cannot expect to reform the health care system, much less expand coverage, without confronting the public-health catastrophe that is the modern American diet."

Five years later, Pollan is disappointed that Obama didn't listen. "There's been a timidity when it comes to looking at the food system," he says. ""You're socially engineered every time you walk through the cereal aisle in the supermarket""

Consider the Environmental Protection Agency's recent announcement that it would begin regulating emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. "The agricultural sector generates more methane than any other sector," Pollan says. "But for reasons I can't fathom, when they announced the new rules governing methane in the energy sector, they called for voluntary measures in the agricultural sector."

In a wide-ranging interview, Pollan, the author of the recent  -  and excellent  -  Cooked: a Natural History of Transformation -  explained what studying the food system teaches you about capitalism, why he's more excited about meat made from vegetables than meat made from clones, and whether it's time to add anything to his famous triplet: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."    
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