Who decreed Michael Pollan an expert on how we should produce food?

Whilst some of those in agriculture spend their time quibbling over the definition of the word farmer the people who buy what farmers produce are bombarded with information about how our food is produced and the way it “should be produced”.  Sometimes from credible sources and more often than not from people who have well meaning ideals but their observations are so generalised they do more harm than good

As some-one who comes from seven generations of farming families it so frustrates me that agriculture lets other people tell its story. People like Michael Pollan who make a fortune out of telling his version of agriculture’s story

Michael Pollan.jpg

I found this recent article fascinating I watched Michael Pollan’s new fantasy “In Defense of Food” so you don’t have to.

Some interesting reflections include

Are simplicity and good health really located in the good old days? I don’t think so. The way Pollan idealizes nature and the past is pure fantasy. He thinks life would be better if we ate food cooked entirely from scratch. Better for whom?


For some reason, food crusaders like Pollan and Kass continue to cling to the mythology of an idealized past. What’s moderate about valorizing organic produce, when we know that organic is less efficient, more expensive, not any more nutritious or pesticide-free? Why cling to fantasies about the past without embracing the technologies that might make for a healthier future?

Today  it seems anyone can call themselves an expert on what we should eat and how we should farm. Apparently this starts with farming like we did 60 years ago. In Australia this is the era when farmers cut down every tree in their way and the rotary hoe and the lets plough it up and plough it up again mentality was mainstream thinking .

How and why is it that agriculture lets this happen? Seriously farming like we did 60 years ago I don’t think so.

Its time agriculture asked itself where are our credible celebrity farmer faces? People who can be seen as the rationale voices, people that the media call up because they can discuss the key issues and call people like Michael Pollan out on the falsehoods they perpetuate

I think its time we got over-ourselves and stopped debating the definition of farmer  and started supporting our credible celebrity  farmers – they may just be our saving grace

This is a very interesting Ted talk from Robert Saik asking the question “Will agriculture be allowed to feed the world”

Blurb from Ted

Robert Saik, CEO of The Agri-Trend Group of Companies is a Professional Agrologist and a Certified Agricultural Consultant. As founder of The Agri-Trend Group, Robert has been involved in the development of many new business processes and spearheaded several advancements in technology integration in agriculture. Agri-Trend has been nominated one of Canada’s 2012 Top 50 Best Managed Companies and was recognized by Venture Magazine as one of Alberta’s 2013 top 25 Most Innovative Organizations. Robert is a Director of Westerner Park, 2014-2015 Chairman of Agri-Trade Show, past Director of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, and serves on The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce Ag Policy Committee as well as Adviser to The Canadian Management Council, The Farm Progress Show and The Red Deer College.
In July 2014, Robert was appointed by the Premier of the Province of Alberta to the Innovation Council, a think-tank on technology integration and innovation leadership. He is a passion keynote speaker addressing audiences on the importance of modern agriculture. He is also the author of the Amazon bestseller, “The Agriculture Manifesto” – 10 Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade.

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

6 thoughts on “Who decreed Michael Pollan an expert on how we should produce food?”

  1. Doesn’t this article contradict your earlier blog posts re defining yourself as a farmer.

    You refer to Pollan as an ‘other’ and how it frustrates you that he makes a fortune out of selling his vision of agriculture.

    Why is he not allowed to promote his vision, he may well be defining himself as a farmer.

    1. Thanks hypo critical thinking (BTW in the main I only approve comments from people who use their real names) for weighing into this important conversation. My problem isnt so much Michael Pollan’s opinion its that commercial agriculture doesn’t have charismatic advocates that can tell their story and counterbalance Michael’s views.

      1. Hi Lynne.
        I think we need to take note of the the Pollan’s and other as the worlds people are becoming more prone to diabetes, obesity and food allergies etc. These conditions are not necessarily the fault of the Primary Producers. It’s the manufacturers desperately trying to make a few cents per item on their products in a warped market place run by invisible people or corporations for the the benefit of themselves. It’s not our fault.

      2. Yes John you are right and Michael Pollan makes a number of valid points What I have a problem with is his solutions are too idealistic. Re the health of the world and the diseases you mention – today many of these things are self inflicted lifestyle diseases. We can raise awareness of this but in the end it is up to the individual to make the behavioural change

      3. I am sure it is the air we breath, the water we drink but mostly the food we eat. What choices do the majority of the population have. But like Peter Andrews principles, we know they work. They are also idealistic to many people but they work. I am not going to do everything he suggests, just some. Same as Pollan’s ideas. Just some. When you look at our problems holistically, we are in a bad place and we need radical changes in Ag as well as manufacturing.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: