There is every reason to believe that corn has succeeded in domesticating us.
Though the industrial logic that made feeding cattle to cattle seem like a good idea has been thrown into doubt by mad cow disease, I was surprised to learn it hadn't been discarded. The FDA ban on feeding ruminant protein to ruminants makes an exception for blood products and fat; my steer will probably dine on beef tallow recycled from the very slaughterhouse he's heading to in June.
Twenty thousand birds moved away from me as one, like a ground-hugging white cloud, clucking softly.
Very simply, we subsidize high-fructose corn syrup in this country, but not carrots. While the surgeon general is raising alarms over the epidemic of obesity, the president is signing farm bills designed to keep the river of cheap corn flowing, guaranteeing that the cheapest calories in the supermarket will continue to be the unhealthiest.
Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.
When chickens get to live like chickens, they'll taste like chickens, too.
Without such a thing as fast food, there would be no need for slow food,
Polyface is proof that people can sometimes do more for the health of a place by cultivating it rather than by leaving it alone.
So much about life in a global economy feels as though it has passed beyond the individual's control--what happens to our jobs, to the prices at the gas station, to the vote in the legislature. But somehow food still feels a little different. We can still decide, every day, what we're going to put into our bodies, what sort of food chain we want to participate in. We can, in other words, reject the industrial omelet on offer and decide to eat another.
So this is what commodity corn can do to a cow: industrialize the miracle of nature that is a ruminant, taking this sunlight- and prairie grass-powered organism and turning it into the last thing we need: another fossil fuel machine. This one, however, is able to suffer.
Suffering... is not just lots of pain but pain amplified by distinctly human emotions such as regret, self-pity, shame, humiliation, and dread.
The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.
The true socialist utopia turns out to be a field of F-1 hybrid plants.
Experiences that banish irony are much better for living than for writing.
Growing corn, which from a biological perspective had always been a process of capturing sunlight to turn into food, has in no small measure become a process of converting fossil fuels into food.
I asked the feedlot manager why they didn't just spray the liquefied manure on neighboring farms. The farmers don't want it, he explained. The nitrogen and phosphorus levels are so high that spraying the crops would kill them. He didn't say that feedlot wastes also contain heavy metals and hormone residues, persistent chemicals that end up in waterways downstream, where scientists have found fish and amphibians exhibiting abnormal sex characteristics.
I like to be able to open a can of stock and I like to talk about politics, or the movies, at the dinner table sometimes instead of food.
I said before that McDonald's serves a kind of comfort food, but after a few bites I'm more inclined to think they're selling something more schematic than that--something more like a signifier of comfort food. So you eat more and eat more quickly, hoping somehow to catch up to the original idea of a cheeseburger or French fry as it retreats over the horizon. And so it goes, bite after bite, until you feel not satisfied exactly, but simply, regrettably, full.
Instead of eating exclusively from the sun, humanity now began to sip petroleum.
More grass means less forest; more forest less grass. But either-or is a construction more deeply woven into our culture than into nature, where even antagonists depend on one another and the liveliest places are the edges, the in-betweens or both-ands..... Relations are what matter most.
Perhaps as the sway of tradition in our eating decisions weakens, habits we once took for granted are thrown up in the air, where they're more easily buffeted by a strong idea or a breeze of fashion.
As long as one egg looks pretty much like another, all the chickens like chicken, and beef beef, the substitution of quantity for quality will go unnoticed by most consumers, but it is becoming increasingly apparent to anyone with an electron microscope or a mass spectrometer that, truly, this is not the same food.
But that's the challenge -- to change the system more than it changes you.
Cheapness and ignorance are mutually reinforcing. And it's a short way from not knowing who's at the other end of your food chain to not caring - to the carelessness of both producers and consumers.
Curiously, the one bodily fluid of other people that doesn't disgust us is the one produced by the human alone: tears. Consider the sole type of used tissue you'd be willing to share.
Dreams of innocence are just that; they usually depend on a denial of reality that can be its own form of hubris.
More Michael Pollan Quotations (Based on Topics)
Food - Nature - Animals - Politics - Journalism - Writing - Place - Health - Science - Environment - World - Time - Medicine & Medical - America - Garden - Fairness - People - Movies - Sin - View All Michael Pollan Quotations
More Michael Pollan Quotations (By Book Titles)
- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
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