26 May 2007

Perhaps it's only of interest to me, but ...

How did ethics become a staple of contemporary food writing?

Thanks to his perch as The New York Times Magazine’s resident food sage, Pollan is a well-known champion of the ethical superiority of small, local organic farms, and of the superior taste of their products. Whole Foods, of course, is a bringer of organic food to grateful yuppies across the country. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan describes Whole Foods as the embodiment of “Industrial Organic.” The company’s appetite for product has driven some organic farmers to scale up and become very much like the farms they were supposed to replace: organic dairies now house thousands of cows who have never munched on a patch of grass, while Brobdignagian vegetable farms ship their produce across the country, undercutting small, local farmers. Whole Foods even sells “organic” TV dinners (Pollan says one he tried “looked and tasted very much like airline food”) and, during the North American winter, has asparagus shipped north from Argentina. This would be environmentally dubious on its face, Pollan suggests, given the fuel required to ship the vegetable. In any case, it “tasted like damp cardboard.”

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