‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in the Bay Area any more.’

I’m hoping this is the last I’ll have to say about Michael Pollan. For a couple years now, as he’s become the go-to man on the subjects of the Farm Bill and subsidies, responsible sustainable local eating … Frankly, it bores me. You don’t hear much opposition. He’s just so darn reasonable. And who could argue with that Alice Waters, with her lovely smile and gorgeous fava-bean purees? In the Bay Area bubble, one takes for granted that the man next to you on BART is pretty well aware that free-range eggs don’t always truly range freely, that corn syrup is the downfall of the modern American diet, that beautiful vegetables are to be worshipped, and so forth. And every time I hear a radio host say the words “sustainable” and “food,” I know I’m about to hear Pollan’s voice. He has become the face of the new food movement.

So when I saw posters for the University of Wisconsin’s annual Food for Thought festival, starring guest lecturer Michael Pollan, I thought: Yawn … maybe I’ll stop in to see what they’re catering.

This morning’s Wisconsin State Journal guest columnist is Bill Bruins, a dairy farmer from Waupun, Wisc., and president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

UW-Madison has served up Pollan’s book, “In Defense of Food,” as the main course for its GoBig Read campus-wide book discussion this year. Chancellor Biddy Martin says its selection was meant to generate discussion about an important topic, and not an endorsement of the book, Pollan or his adopted food system ideology.


Pollan has narrow and elitist ideas about how you should eat and how farmers should (or shouldn’t) feed a hungry and growing world. To make these claims you would think he’s a food scientist instead of a creative writer with an agenda.

Bruins goes on to say that Pollan’s plan would “starve much of the world” and that his book is “disturbing and immoral.”

It seems not everyone’s a convert. Pollan’s been attacking a giant industry, and industry bites back. It’s just that they don’t do it in the New York Times Magazine. Maybe this will be a fun lecture.

Pollan’s “responsible eating” links here. Pollan’s book here, plus everywhere else you look. Pollan writes the President about what’s wrong with the American food system. Meanwhile, Bruins and other farmers are dealing with a dairy market crisis.


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