Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Divine Michael Pollan

(Konnichiwa, Pollan-sama)

The Sensei of all 21st century kitchen gardeners, Michael Pollan, has written a new article in the NY Times Magazine, coming out tomorrow (but published on-line today). As there is no possible way I can improve on the man's writing, here are some excerpts:

"A great many things happen when you plant a vegetable garden, some of them directly related to climate change, others indirect but related nevertheless. Growing food, we forget, comprises the original solar technology: calories produced by means of photosynthesis. Years ago the cheap-energy mind discovered that more food could be produced with less effort by replacing sunlight with fossil-fuel fertilizers and pesticides, with a result that the typical calorie of food energy in your diet now requires about 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce. It’s estimated that the way we feed ourselves (or rather, allow ourselves to be fed) accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas for which each of us is responsible."
"And while we’re counting carbon, consider too your compost pile, which shrinks the heap of garbage your household needs trucked away even as it feeds your vegetables and sequesters carbon in your soil. What else? Well, you will probably notice that you’re getting a pretty good workout there in your garden, burning calories without having to get into the car to drive to the gym."
"You begin to see that growing even a little of your own food is, as Wendell Berry pointed out 30 years ago, one of those solutions that, instead of begetting a new set of problems — the way “solutions” like ethanol or nuclear power inevitably do — actually beget other solutions, and not only of the kind that save carbon. Still more valuable are the habits of mind that growing a little of your own food can yield. You quickly learn that you need not be dependent on specialists to provide for yourself — that your body is still good for something and may actually be enlisted in its own support."
Full article here:

O how I love Michael Pollan. Common sense, wit, and total accessibility all in one package. And he's a gardener.


FRITZ said...

So I was out in my yard doing mumble mumble*, planting some mumble mumble in the new mumble that my husband dug up for me in the front of the house and filled with mumble soil, and I got a sunburn and my back hurts and...

my mumbles look beautiful this morning, like a tiny piece of something verdant. Pollan's right. Gardening is good for you.

(*to protect the identity of certain flowers, and certain topsoils added to enrich the existing sand I have in my yard, and mostly to avoid the wrath of ilex, who is a puritan about these kinds of things--in a very rigorous kind of way.)

Rabbits' Guy said...

Right .. especially when it keeps snowing ...

But, we WILL get to plant soon.

Amanda said...

Did you read Omnivore's Dilemma? I bought the book, read it, and when someone asks to borrow it, I have to tell them I wrote so many notes in the book that it would drive anyone else nuts! I keep all my books immaculate, but when it comes to Michael Pollan, I bend pages, write notes, highlight, etc. And then I feel like I want to read it again! He is amazing.