Agriculture / Crop-Livestock / Environment / Farming Systems / Film and video / North America

‘Bring animals back onto farms’–US food activist Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan (credit: The Essential Bioneers)

The following comments were made by Michael Pollan, US food systems activist, journalist and writer of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Rules and other popular books, in ’10 Questions with Michael Pollan’, Time Magazine, 1 February 2010.

Q: Can you tell us what your current diet is? And if it is not vegetarian, why not?

POLLAN: ‘I still eat meat. But I eat a lot less. I have enormous respect for vegetarians and vegans because they’ve thought through the consequences of their food choices. [But] I think there are good reasons to eat meat—good environmental reasons. What we need is a more diversified agriculture. And when agriculture really is working, you have animals on farms as well as plants. And we’re not going to keep animals on farms unless we’re eating them. So I do believe if you’ve got a good diversified farm system, there are ways to eat meat that are good for you and good for the environment.’

Q: If you could wave a wand and change only one thing about our food and   system in America, what would it be?

POLLAN: ‘I think the one thing that I would do is bring animals back onto farms. When you have an animal on a farm, and you have a mixed farm, you don’t have any waste because the animal’s waste feeds the crops and the crops feed the animal and it’s this elegant solution.

‘And what we did when we took animals off the farms is that we neatly divided that solution into two big problems.

‘Those problems are a fertility deficit on the farms, since there’s no manure and therefore they need to use nitrogen fertilizer, and a pollution problem on the feedlot, where that waste, which would be a blessing on a farm, becomes a source of pollution.

‘So if we can get animals back onto farms, we will win in so many different ways.’

Watch the whole interview at Time Video or read the printed version.

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