Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"The Omnivore's Dilemma" a Controversial Book?

Apparently, The Omnivore's Dilemma was selected, then deselected, then selected again at Washington State for some sort of freshman reading list. WSU is a former land grant school (like K-State), so I'm sure agricultural issues are a big deal there.

The first comment on the blog is from an agricultural lawyer who says that it was a shame that the book was dropped because more discourse is a good thing, but the young lawyer also goes out of his way to paint Pollan as one of the most biased reporters on the topic. Another friend of mine asked me the other day if Pollan was super pretentious when I saw him speak. At the time, I thought it was a rather out-of-left-field question, but maybe now it makes a little more sense.

Is Pollan seen as an elitist member of the Liberal Media who has an axe to grind with industrial agriculture? I never even knew that this was a viewpoint held by anyone. He certainly doesn't paint the system with a positive brush, but I see little bias in his reporting. It seems to me that he often presents the point of view of agribusiness*.

My grandparents are traditional farmers, and I know a great deal about their point of view. I think they and their fellow farmers are adequately represented in Pollan's books. In fact, I see him as an advocate of any traditional farmers like my grandparents. He sees problems with the system that tells them what to grow.

Then again, I've never been very good at spotting bias in The Media, so maybe I'm not the best judge of what's straight truth-telling and what is "pusing an agenda."

* Right before he debunks it.

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