Some Comments from Michael Pollan

From an interview with Michael Pollan:

* At least 20 percent of all fossil fuels go to agriculture, much of that in the form of synthetic fertilizer, Pollan noted. The nitrous oxide given off by such fertilizer “is 300 times more heat-trapping than carbon dioxide,” the greenhouse gas that gets the most press.

* President Obama “has shown that he gets it,” but “there’s a long way from a leader you elect getting it and him doing anything about it.” Obama needs to realize that he’s “not going to get anywhere” on his energy or health care initiatives without addressing the problems of the food system and the American diet.

* Michelle Obama, with her organic garden at the White House and her public pronouncements on food, could potentially “change the conversation at the Good Housekeeping level.” She is “building a consensus for reform” that could be enacted “maybe in a second term.”

* Noting the influence of the food lobby on the government, he noted a recent Youtube video of a hearing on the federal School Lunch Program that was “packed with industry lobbyists.” Indeed, there were many more industry lobbyists than anyone else at the hearing.

* Farmland, particularly that near urban areas, should be considered “as precious as wetlands” if we have any hope of developing local food systems.

* Building such local systems is “not that hard to do.” One solution: legislation to compel government buyers of food (for schools, prisons, food programs, etc.) to buy locally, even if only at the margins. A 2 percent or 3 percent mandate would cause “an instant revival of local agriculture.”

* Decentralization of the food system would prevent many national or global outbreaks of food-borne diseases. When single meat-grinding operations, or single lettuce-washing operations, feed millions of people, outbreaks become global fast.