Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore's Dimemma and various other books, spoke last Tuesday night at the Opera House in a sold-out facilitated Q and A session. For those not familiar with this legend in the wholefoods world check out his biography here. He was voted Top 10 New Thought Leaders via Newsweek. I unfortunately could not make it so I have asked my friend Sylvia Tarchalska to write a guest post on her thoughts of the discussion:
"In summary, it was wonderful seeing Michael Pollan as he is such a good presenter but if you have read his books, you probably would not have learnt anything new and 1.5 hours just wasn't long enough to delve into his theories.Having said that, it was an inspiring night:
Michael was interviewed by Rebecca Huntley so he covered various topics raised by her questions with no overall themes.
Topics included what is wrong with the western diet and how it leads to chronic disease. My favourite line was that it's a "historical paradox yet we continue to eat it".He critiqued the current form of nutritional science and he believes that it has failed us so we must seek alternatives.He was also surprised that in Australia, approximately 80% of the supermarket is controlled by two companies. Similar to the States, we focus on labelling and not on food itself - it's all about labelling "nutrients" which takes the pleasure out of food.If the US subsidise corn/wheat and soybeans, aren't they in fact subsidising the fast food industry?Michael also covered GM crops and the fact that as promised, GM has not in fact increased the yield of crops so you can't in fact feed the world on GM. It has however increased the use of pesticides including Round UP. He doesn't believe that it has a predictable or sustainable future as manipulating a gene has many unintended consequences....Basically the promised wave of "wonder crops" hasn't and seems unlikely to emerge so it looks unlikely that we will be discussing this 10 years from now.When asked about children and how to instil food ethics early, Michael stressed the importance of kids being in the kitchen cooking with parents. He believes that teaching them how food is grown and prepared and spending time in a garden increases their curiosity. Children generally eat food that they prepare themselves so if you start educating on a sensory level, the battle is half won.Someone asked a question about how to sell quality in a world obsessed with quantity:- we should pay farmers- pay more for quality- eat less- continue down the path with chefs teaching about the "food experience"- focus on home gardens- Use Joel Salatins farm model to create more soil/biodiversity and sustainabilitySoulla, I thought of you when he said "asking annoying questions at the butcher leads to change".Summary: We all have to devote more time, more money and more effort to food."
Did anyone else go see Michael Pollan? If so, what did you think?