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An eater's must-read

(article, Kim Carlson)

For anyone who's interested in the many connections between food and our environmental health — that would be you, folks — the Sow What? series currently running on Grist is an excellent read. A bundle of articles (along with a quiz and a slide show) makes up the bulk of the series, and while there's more to come, here are some of the highlights so far:


 Grist contributing writer Tom Philpott, a journalist and farmer who's working hard to bring the rest of us up to speed on the connections between environmental health and good eating, pens a travelogue of sorts about Iowa, the Midwestern state that grows a huge percentage of our nation's food. But this is much more than a typical tourist's meanderings; Philpott lays out the history of Iowan agriculture, surveys the current mixed bag of affairs, and finally looks to the future. The news, as he sees it, isn't all bad.

 A cheerful slide show, with a voice-over by Philpott, opens more windows on Iowan food and farming. Happily, it's not all industrialized agriculture.

 [%image feed-image float=right] A chef and restaurant owner describes his work in Iowa over the last 15 years — from the days when he wasn't allowed to buy food for his restaurant at the farmers' market to now, when he's part of the state's thriving network of sustainable food producers and purveyors.

 Think you already know something about food and the environment? Take the Sow What? quiz and humble yourself.

* Finally, in a conversation between Philpott and Michael Pollan, we learn that Pollan's soon-to-be-released new book offers the same advice he gave in the New York Times Magazine earlier this year: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." 


Does that mean a life of deprivation? Not according to Pollan:

bq. There's no sacrifice in eating well, there is no sacrifice in pleasure. To the contrary, the best-grown food is actually the tastiest. 

Pollan has been a pillar in the sustainable-food community for a while now, but the sensible-eating community may adopt him as its leader as well, especially when he says things like this:

bq. You know, people have looked to food for all these values for thousands of years — food was a way to come together, it was a way to express your identity, it was a way to engage with nature — food has always had this power. And I think we've had a kind of temporary forgetting of that, and this idea that food is just fuel, food is about health or illness, these very simplistic, reductive ideas have kind of thinned out the whole experience. But there's a desire to thicken it again, and lo and behold food is providing all these satisfactions that people were missing. 

Read through to the end, where Pollan reveals his deliciously ironic junk food of choice; I won't tell you what it is, but I will tell you that it's chock full of corn and corn syrup.

Grist's "Sow What?" series continues into next week.

feed-image, l