Sunday, October 12, 2008

Farmer in Chief, a memo by Michael Pollan

The New York Times published a 13-page memo written by Michael Pollan called Farmer in Chief. The memo is a letter to the next president. The entire memo is informative and easy to understand. Two things stood out for me being a small, one-person, one product local food supplier. When I make my granola bars, I have to follow the same laws as slaughter house slaughting 400 heads an hour. Pollan says this is rediculous. He says that laws should be less stringent for smaller local food businesses with less food contamination risk.

I can't agree more. I make my granola bars not for the money because there isn't much of that after my expenses. I make my granola bars to provide a better choice for children and people that are looking for healthy granola bars made with organic ingredients. At Rainbow Grocery, where I sell my bars in bulk, there is one other small company that I know of in Oakland that sells food there, Kaia Foods. I can't help but think how great it would be if the great home chefs of the Bay Area could find it profitable and easy to sell to Rainbow or any grocery store: Sourdough Money Wrangler could sell his bread, Amy Sherman could sell her Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies and Heidi Swanson could sell her Animal Cookies. Although these last two are desserts they are unprocessed and yummy! If we could all share what we make for our own kids just think of how wonderfully lovely the food products would be.

Unfortunately, all food sold in San Francisco needs to be made in a commercial kitchen, which is expensive. The kitchen I rent is $20 an hour (cheapest in town) and it accounts for 50% of my expenses. If I could just make my bars in my home kitchen which is a lot cleaner, I could actually make some money. This is how I inturpurt what Pollan writes about in his recent memo. I think that it would encourage people to open small food businesses and sell to us consumers hungry for good, homemade, unmanufactured food

The other point that I just loved from Pollan's memo was his vision to transform a part of the White House lawn into a Victory Garden. He says that Eleanor Roosevelt did something similar in 1943 over the objections of the U.S.D.A, which feared home gardening would hurt the American food industry. By the end of WWII, 40 percent of produce consumed in America was from home gardens. Let's do this! It has been done before and we need to do it again for so many reasons that Pollan refers to in his article.

Let's move into the post-oil era now. I am looking forward to it.

My Victory Garden
My Nate Bars

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

from an interview posted by Joe Klein in Time Mag., with Obama:

Obama: I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs.

That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.


For us to say we are just going to completely revamp how we use energy in a way that deals with climate change, deals with national security and drives our economy, that's going to be my number one priority when I get into office, assuming, obviously, that we have done enough to just stabilize the immediate economic situation. In conversations with folks like Warren Buffet, Larry Summers, and the other people that I've been spending time with on this, I described it as we've got a boat with a lot of leaks and we need to get it into port. That's what the financial rescue package is about. But once we get it into port, once the credit markets are functioning effectively, then it's time for us to go back to the fundamentals of this economy. Now, the one other point I want to make about this, though, we can't divorce the energy issue from what I believe has to be the dominant political theme underlying everything -- the economy, healthcare, you name it. And that is restoring a sense that we're growing the economy from the bottom up and not the top down. That's the overarching philosophical change that we've got to have. It's the attitude that Henry Ford had when he paid his workers a decent wage. That means they're going to be able to buy their cars. The irony of McCain trying to make this whole Joe the Plumber thing as his sort of mantra over the last few days, if you look at the transcript of my conversation with him, the point I was making was two-fold. Number one, I want to give you a tax cut sooner so you can save sooner to start your business sooner because the average plumber starting off sure isn't making $250,000 a year.

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