Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

Michael Pollan

Not many people are so committed to their work that they would purchase a live steer just to learn something. Michael Pollan is.

Unwilling to accept the food industry's account of where beef comes from, Michael bought a steer in Kansas to follow the life cycle of a kernel of corn from the laboratory to the feed bin to the restaurant where the beef is served. It's a harrowing tale, and since the moment I heard him tell it, I have not served corn-fed beef of any kind. I was Pollanized — and I am not alone.

In the Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc. and in his books Food Rules and The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael, 55, tells complex stories in an engaging voice. When he speaks live, I've seen thousands grip their seats as they realize what our food system has become and how badly we need to fix it.

Michael's rock-star status isn't just about his rigor or brilliance. He thinks about the ethical bonds that connect our bodies, farms and food. In so doing, he has become an example to the rest of us.

Waters is a co-owner of Chez Panisse, a cookbook author and a champion of simple, locally grown food

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