7,000 attend talk by controversial food author
By Nick Penzenstadler, Special to the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Sept. 24, 2009
Madison — Here's some advice: Don't buy any foods you've seen advertised on television.
That was one of the tips of a controversial author speaking Thursday before more than 7,000 people at the Kohl Center in the heart of America's Dairyland.
Michael Pollan visited the campus as part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's "Go Big Read" program, after UW chose his book, "In Defense of Food," as the subject of the program. The book was given free to all incoming freshmen and incorporated into more than 60 courses from engineering to art.
In the book, Pollan provides his perspectives on the growth of manufactured foods and promotes simplifying your diet: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
"We didn't purposely choose a controversial book, but food and food production is important to the people of this state," UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin said. "The interest and the controversy is all positive."
Laura Daniels, a dairy farmer from Cobb, organized a group of more than 100 farmers to attend the lecture with matching T-shirts.
"It's absolutely not a protest, but we just want to enter the dialogue," Daniels said. "Unfortunately, if we don't show up and show our side, many of his claims will become truth."
Pollan addressed critics at the start of his presentation.
"I would have no problem wearing the green T-shirt I've seen. 'Eat food, be healthy, and thank a farmer' - there's nothing there I could disagree with," Pollan said. "America's farmers hold the key to solving the crises in our country, health care, climate change and energy."
Defense of food science
John Lucey, a UW-Madison food scientist, opposed Pollan's view of food technology on the university's Go Big Read Web site.
"Food science has done a lot of good. If you go back 100 years ago, foods were the source of people getting sick and dying, that is a fact. The introduction of technologies like pasteurization of milk, have saved countless lives." Read More
Congratulations to all of those that showed up with green shirts. Your hard work and efforts paid off. Even though he claims not to against family farmers, his irresponsible ideas that he is advocating would hurt both family farmers and our country’s safe, affordable, abundant food supply. It’s vital that everyone understand that.