Wednesday, February 28, 2007

John Mackey, Michael Pollan & Real Sustainablility




Last night I got a chance to hear John Mackey, Whole Foods CEO and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma at UC Berkeley. It was a fascinating evening of discourse mainly about the future of food and less about the ongoing debate between the author and CEO (which has been well documented in a series of letters posted in the blogs of Whole Foods and Michael Pollan).

While I was encouraged to hear so much discussion of issues such as fair trade, sustainability, animal welfare, biodiversity, local and organic, I was dismayed at how none of the conversation was spent on dealing with the issue of hunger.

The charge of elitism is sadly given short shrift by many leaders in the debate about the future of food. It seems if you are middle class the question of how much you should spend on your eggs is more worthy than the question of how we can make sure the poor get any eggs at all.

I'm glad I have the resources to make enlightened decisions about the food I buy and eat, but it disturbs me to think of how many people do not share that same luxury, they struggle just to get any food on the table. For them the question is "what eggs?" not "which eggs?". Surely education can help all consumers, those with and without means, make better food choices. But any discussion of sustainability ought to include at least a mention of how we make life more sustainable by making good food affordable and attainable for all.

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Over at Bay Area Bites is my recap of the Michael Pollan & John Mackey discussion at Zellerbach Auditorium.