In Defense of Food (and Books) Michael Pollan Leads “Go Big Read”

I totally believe that we are what we eat and that food is profoundly political.  Likewise, I believe we are what we read.Pollan books

Those two concepts will be blending together this fall as my alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Madison, (Go Badgers!) launches its first common reading program that will reach out to students (about 42,000 of them) employees and faculty (about 18,000) alumni (about 368,000) and the greater community (who can put a number on that?)   We are talking about potentially half a million people who have been invited to join a giant book club and read Michael Pollan’s most recent book, In Defense of Food.

One UW student and two alumni getting ready for Go Big Read.

One UW student and two alumni getting ready for Go Big Read.

Almost 700 people put their favorite book in the hat, and Chancellor Biddy Martin pulled out In Defense of Food.  It has a lot to recommend it for a massive read in.  It is short, and it is power packed.  With so many good books and even the film Food, Inc. out there in the public’s current consciousness, this is a great choice to focus on.

Sara Guyer, director of the UW Center of the Humanities says, “The book is relevant to all of us who each day make decisions about what to eat, and it will generate exciting, cross-disciplinary conversations about where our food comes from — and where it should come from.”

As a vegetarian, locavore and general all-purpose whole-grain-goodness fanatic, I couldn’t agree more.  I am so excited about the spotlight being aimed by such an influential institution as UW-Madison on these topics, which will be threaded into classes including communications arts, agricultural and life sciences and biological sciences throughout the school year.  I wonder if anyone will make a study of cafeteria choices before and after this reading program.

Not surprisingly, Michael Pollan will be in town for the kick off and be speaking at the Kohn Center (our huge basketball stadium which seats 17,000 on September 24.)  (check out details of the Go Big Read/Humanities without Boundaries here

Imagine this huge building filled with people thinking about good food.

Imagine this huge building filled with people thinking about good food.

While he is in town, Pollan will also speak at the Food for Thought Festival Saturday September 26.  Visit for more information. That event is organized by the Research, Education, Action, and Policy of Food Group (REAP) Their mandate is, What we choose to eat, where our food comes from, and how our food is grown have impacts on our health, our regional economy, the health of our environment and the strength of our communities.

I love living in a place where so many people are thinking about food in this way.  Check out my July 10 post on CSAs Madison Style or Insuring Good Nutrition here.

HOW COOL IS THIS?Pollan-bounty

Sometimes you can’t help but feel a little optimistic.


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