American journalist Michael Pollan has written some great books about food and farming, most notably the Omnivore’s Dilemma, which cast a critical eye at so-called Big Organic: the industrial mono-culture organic farmers and growers and big organic chain stores like Whole Foods Market. His new book In Defense of Food offers a manifesto for eating in America to break the vicious cycle of junk food, chronic diet-related diseases and food ignorance. Many of his ideas draw on the notion of ‘food culture’, something that he argues that Americans have lost, and we Europeans (well, maybe not us Brits), still have. This is nothing new of course and Carlo Petrini and the Slow Food movement have been making the case for food culture for many years.
The cultural context of food is often evoked as a justification for the Common Agricultural Policy although others argue that farm subsidies have actually accelerated the decline of European food culture. Michael Pollan gave an interesting talk recently at Google, and you can watch a video of it after the jump. It’s long but very rewarding, so set aside a good chunk of time to listen (and reflect).