Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Local farming as the big "solar industry"

This Saturday is the last of this year's Durango Farmer's Markets. Each year, this Saturday morning event grows as a local ritual, shared celebration, gathering place, and general Good Thing in our community -- and on the land, as these small, locally rooted, clean, and healthy farms find outlets like farmer's markets to get their wares out there.

And it might be a harbinger of the future.

There was a truly mind-opening interview last night on NPR's Fresh Air that's worth taking the half-hour or so to listen to. In it, author Michael Pollan arues that "the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close."

Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History Of Four Meals and In Defense OF Food: An Eater's Manifesto, last week published an open letter to the next President in the New York Times Magazine. The letter urges the President to, among other things, create create a Secretary of Farming, to convert the White House lawn into a food-producing "victory garden," and to legally redefine "food" to exclude snacks with empty calories. (If Ronald Reagan can get ketchup legally declared a "vegetable," then it should be only easier to exclude certain things, Pollan argues in the interview.)

Pollan also wants to government to require developments to have to file "food system impact statements," and to convert failed golf courses and such back to small-scale, urban-landscape farms -- which, he argues, is truly the next boom small-scale, close-to-home, local-employing "solar industry" that politicians and business have been touting.

"We need to wring the fossil fuels out of our food system," Pollan says in the interview. "Farming is the original solar technology."

Pollan's open letter to the next President.

Pollan's "Fresh Air" interview.

Michael Pollan website.
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