By Emily Carter, Victoria Unvarsky, and Julia Waldow
When Fast Food Nation ﾗ the investigation by journalist Eric Schlosser into how we opt for the fast food choice ﾗ first hit bookstores in 2001, it transformed the way Americans understood the food industry in the United States. Since then, writer and journalist Michael Pollan has continued to investigate and extend conversations on the topic more than a decade later.
“How you eat has more impact on the world than most of the other things you do,” Pollan said in an interview with the Collegian. “It’s a very powerful vote that we all have with our food choices, and how we cast it makes a big difference.”
Pollan promotes sustainable agriculture and the importance of mindful eating.
Pollan, the bestselling author of the recently published Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, will speak on “How Cooking Can Change Your Life” on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in Rosse Hall.
Howard Sacks, professor of sociology and director of Kenyon’s Rural Life Center, considers Pollan a dynamic leader in the local food movement.
“His books are wonderfully well-written and have generated a lot of public conversation … but it’s not just that he’s talking about [food], it’s the way he’s talking about it,” Sacks said. “I think of him as a very holistic thinker. … He talks about the political [and] social implications it has in our society, and in that sense he is very much thinking in the tradition of the liberal arts.”
Ten to 15 years ago, when Pollan visited a feedlot in California and a potato farm in Idaho, he was rudely awakened to the extent of the industrialization of American food.
“There’s a big story that Americans don’t know about the origins of their food, and the images being used to sell [food] to us are not accurate,” Pollan said. “I encourage people to be more conscious. I don’t like to tell people what to do, but I think if people go to the trouble to learn about the food chain they’re part of, they tend to make much better decisions.”
Pollan’s work has impacted many members of the Kenyon community. Lead Instructor and Director of Introductory Labs in Biology Jennifer Smith said that reading Pollan’s books has directly affected how she eats.
“I didn’t realize how far the food industry has gone to ruin a meal,” she said. “I make conscious decisions now, whereas I didn’t use to, about what I eat.”
Even if students have limited access to a kitchen, Pollan still encourages students “to make their desires and needs known to the people running the food service and the administration.”
Becca Katzman ’14, student manager of the Rural Life Center and a member of People Endorsing Agricultural Sustainability , believes that students must realize they have a voice to influence the way they eat.
“If we don’t demand local foods in the dining hall, no one else will,” Katzman said. “If we don’t appreciate all of the wonderful, fresh foods that the College is working so hard to get for us, then what’s the point?”
Like Katzman, Pollan encourages students to maintain an open dialogue about what they eat and where it comes from.
“You don’t have to be passive in regards to food that’s being served,” Pollan said. “Students are changing it all over the country.”
Pollan will also host a common hour discussion on Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. in Peirce Lounge to engage directly in a question-and-answer session with students.
Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.