Michael Pollan

A Quote by Michael Pollan on synchronicity, slaughterhouse, food supply, and food

The day after my steak-and-Singer dinner at the palm I found myself on a plane flying from Atlanta to Denver.  A couple of hours into the flight the pilot, who hadn’t uttered word one until now, came on the public address system to announce, apropos of nothing, that we were passing over Liberal, Kansas.  This was the first, last, and only landmark on our flight path that the pilot deigned to mention, which seemed very odd, given its obscurity to everyone on the plane but me.  For Liberal, Kansas, happens to be the town where my steer, very possibly that very day, was being slaughtered.  I’m not a superstitious person, but this struck me as a most eerie coincidence.  I could only wonder what was going on just then, thirty thousand feet below me, on the kill floor of the National Beef Plant, where steer number 534 had his date with the stunner.
            I could only wonder because the company had refused to let me see.  When I visited the plant earlier that spring I was shown everything but the kill floor.  I watched steers being unloaded from trailers into corrals and then led up a ramp and through a blue door.  What happened on the other side of the blue door I had to reconstruct from accounts of others who had been allowed to go there.   ...

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 328-9

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by Michael Pollan on capitalism, food, and food supply

A tension has always existed  between the capitalist imperative to maximize efficiency at any cost and the moral imperatives of culture, which historically have served as a counterweight to the moral blindness of the market.  This is another example of the cultural contradictions of capitalism – the tendency over time for the economic impulse to erode the moral underpinnings of society.  Mercy toward the animals in our care is one such casualty.

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 318

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by Michael Pollan on food, food supply, local produce, polyface farm, and joel salatin

In Joel’s view, that reformation begins with people going o the trouble and expense of buying directly from farmers they know – “relationship marketing,” as he calls it.  He believes the only meaningful guarantee of integrity is when buyers and sellers can look one another in the eye, something few of us ever take the trouble to do.  “Don’t you find it odd that people will put more work into choosing their mechanic or house contractor than they will into choosing the person who grows their food?”

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 240

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by Michael Pollan on animals, food, and pets

Whatever the cause, the effect is an unusual amount of confusion on the subject of animals.  For at the same time many of us seem eager to extend the circle of our moral consideration to other species, in our factory farms we’re inflicting more suffering on more animals than at any time in history.  One by one science is dismantling our claims to uniqueness as a species, discovering that such things as culture, tool making, language, and even possibly self consciousness are not, as we used to think, the exclusive properties of Homo sapiens.  And yet most of the animals we eat lead lives organized very much in the spirit of Descartes, who famously claimed that animals were mere machines, incapable of thought or feeling.  There’s a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals today in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side.  Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of a pig – an animal easily as intelligent as a dog – that becomes the Christmas ham.

            We tolerate this schizophrenia because the life of a pig has moved out of view; when’s the last time you saw a pig in person?  Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible.  (When was the last time you saw a butcher at work?)  The disappearance of animals from our lives has opened a space in which the Peter Singers and the Frank Perdues of the world fair equally well.

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 306

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by Michael Pollan on cooking, eating, and destruction

The repetitive phases of cooking leave plenty of mental space for reflection, and as I chopped and minced and sliced I thought about the rhythms of cooking, one of which involves destroying the order of the things we bring from nature into our kitchens, only to then create from them a new order.  We butcher, grind, chop, grate, mince, and liquefy raw ingredients, breaking down formerly living things so that we might recombine them in new, more cultivated forms.  When you think about it, this is the same rhythm, once removed, that governs all eating in nature, which invariably entails the destruction of certain living things, by chewing and then digestion, in order to sustain other living things.  In The Hungry Soul Leon Kass calls this the great paradox of eating:  “that to preserve their life and form living things necessarily destroy life and form.”  If there is any shame in that destruction, only we humans seem to feel it, and then only on occasion.  But cooking doesn’t only distance us from our destructiveness, turning the pile of blood and guts into savory salami, it also symbolically redeems it, making good our karmic debts: Look what good, what beauty, can come of this!  Putting a great dish on the table is our way of celebrating the wonders of form we humans can create from this matter – this quantity of sacrificed life – just before the body takes its first destructive bite.

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 405

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by Michael Pollan on slaughterhouse, food supply, and meat production

Sometimes I think that all it would take to clarify our feelings about eating meat, and in the process begin to redeem animal agriculture, would be to simply pass a law requiring all the sheet-metal walls of all the CAFOs, and even the concrete walls of slaughterhouses, to be replaced by glass.  If there’s any new right we need to establish, maybe this is the one: the right, I mean, to look.  No doubt the sight of some of these places would turn many people into vegetarians.  Many others would look elsewhere for their meat, to farmers willing to raise and kill their animals transparently.  Such farms exist; so do a handful of small processing plants willing to let customers onto the kill floor, including one – Lorentz Meats, in Cannon Falls, Minnesota – that is so confident of their treatment of animals that they have walled their abattoir in glass.

            The industrialization – and brutalization – of animals in America is a relatively new, evitable, and local phenomenon:  No other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do.  No other people in history has lived at quite so great remove from the animals they eat.  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.  Tail docking and sow crates and beak clipping would disappear overnight, and the days of slaughtering four hundred head of cattle an hour would promptly come to an end – for who could stand the sight?  Yes, meat would get more expensive.  We’d probably eat a lot less of it, too, but maybe when we did eat animals we’d eat them with consciousness, ceremony, and respect they deserve.

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 332-3

Contributed by: HeyOK

A Quote by Michael Pollan on writing, objectivity, journalists, blogging, and being

So choose your first person deliberately. Too many newspaper first
persons -- and a lot of magazine first persons too -- are written in
the voice of the neutral feature-writer. They're the voice of the
Journalist. That is the least interesting first person you have. Nobody
cares about journalists. They're not normal people. So choose a first
person that draws on a more normal side of your personality. And think
about which one will help you tell the story. You'll see that in very
subtle ways it will shape your point of view and your tone and unlock
interesting things.

Michael Pollan

Source: http://www.kottke.org/remainder/07/03/13071.html

Contributed by: Eric

A Quote by Michael Pollan on affliction and pride

Of the seven deadly sins, surely it is pride that most commonly afflicts the gardener.

Michael Pollan

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Michael Pollan on garden, magic, plants, and possibility

Ripe vegetables were magic to me. Unharvested, the garden bristled with possibility. I would quicken at the sight of a ripe tomato, sounding its redness from deep amidst the undifferentiated green. To lift a bean plant's hood of heartshaped leaves and discover a clutch of long slender pods handing underneath could make me catch my breath.

Michael Pollan

Contributed by: Zaady

A Quote by Michael Pollan on confusion, culture, imagination, men, nature, needs, sex, and women

Are we, finally, speaking of nature or culture when we speak of a rose (nature), that has been bred (culture) so that its blossoms (nature) make men imagine (culture) the sex of women (nature)? It may be this sort of confusion that we need more of.

Michael Pollan

Source: Second Nature, 1991

Contributed by: Zaady

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