Last week Michael Pollan visited Madison (see my posts The Soul of a Carrot – Michael Pollan at UW Madison, Corn: How Do You Like Yours? , and In Defense of Food (and Books) Michael Pollan leads “Go Big Read” ), and for many of us it was kind of like Santa Clause coming to town. Pollan encloses his meticulously researched descriptions of how our national food chain works in elegant word wrapping paper and then ties it with sly curling ribbon bows of humor.
Who can resist?
“It didn’t surprise me that a typical food item on an American’s plate travels some 1,500 miles to get there and is frequently better traveled and more worldly than its eater.”
“People put more effort into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food.”
“Beach Plum Jelly: August on toast.”
This Wednesday I had the honor of being on a panel discussing Pollan’s work at Monona Public Library’s wonderful Green Tuesday Lecture and Film Series. (Yes, I know it was Wednesday no Tuesday, but I can live with a certain amount of enigma in my life. The library describes it in its website (check it out here ) as a special “Green Wednesday” I like to see as many green days in the week as possible. This wonderful library even has special resource section devoted to sustainability!
Green Tuesdays are sponsored by The Natural Step Monona. Check out their website here. Natural Step is a sustainable program that works with communities and corporations to speed them on their way to greener ways of doing things that make economic as well as environmental sense.
Here is the roll of the panelists: (a restaurateur who serves local food had to cancel. Too bad.)
Kate Heiber-Cobb founded the Madison Area Permaculture Guild in the summer of 2008. Through her business, Sustainability on Stilts, LLC, she educates about and consults on Permaculture. A leader in the growing movement to establish Permaculture principles as a foundation for urban plantings, Kate is also a board member of The Natural Step Monona, and has training in Transition Towns and Radical Urban Sustainability. Click here for a quick intro to Permaculture.
Steve Pincus and his wife, Beth Kazmar, grow 45 acres of certified organic vegetables at Tipi Produce located 35 minutes south of Madison. With over 32 years of farming experience, they have a diverse crop selection, which provides produce to natural food stores and co-ops in Madison, Janesville, and Milwaukee. They also maintain a CSA from May through November. Their goal is to provide an appealing variety of high quality produce so attractive and tasty that families will eat more vegetables than they ever imagined! For a 4-minute You Tube watching Steve get his hands in the dirt and show how his farm works, click here.
Denise Thornton (That’s me) is a newspaper journalist (South Bend Tribune and Chicago Tribune-Lake County Bureau) turned freelancer focusing on environmental writing. Recent articles include The Godmother of Goat Cheese for On Wisconsin and Climate Change: What Experts Expect for the Upper Midwest, which appeared in The Organic Broadcaster. Denise’s environmental blog, , chronicles what she and her husband are doing and learning on their 44 acres west of Madison.
Every bite of food we take is one of the most political acts we can make.
Every day we are voting with our grocery dollars.
That was the consensus of the panel and the audience agreed. The common room of Monona Library held about 30 people last night, and almost everyone jumped in.
This seems like what libraries are for at their best. Not just offering books, but providing a forum to explore them. Everyone had read Pollan. Everyone had ideas about it.
This is the way ideas are supposed to grow, and Pollan’s ideas on food seem to be falling on fertile ground around here. Yeah.