Food, Ethics and the Environment – a Michael Pollan talk


This guy? One of my food idols.

The other day as I headed to uni, I listened to a presentation that Michael Pollan made on Food, Ethics and The Environment at Princeton University, back in 2006 (I found it on iTunes U if anyone is interested in the whole thing).  It was extremely interesting and there was one part of his talk in particular that resonated with me. I’ve transcribed it as best as I could below.

“The omnivore’s ethical dilemmas are not easily resolvable.  You need to choose often between competing values.  And the reason that I don’t tell people what they should eat is that depending where they start out, depending on what they value most, if their concern is energy, if their concern is the land, if their concern is their health, if their concern is the animals, they’re going to come out in a different place.  And you know, that’s fine….that’s absolutely fine.  They’re going to come out a lot better than most of us are today (…) that’s why what is most important (…) is the ethic to know.  To  know what you’re eating, to know these few simple things – what are you eating? Where did it come from?  How did it find its way to your table?  And what, in a true account it really cost.  The sacrifice of life and labour and ethical principles that went into preparing it.  Basically to eat with consciousness is really the key.

 And that’s what brings me to the corporate responsibility part.  Eating with consciousness is impossible wen the food chain that we’re at the end of is opaque and secretive.  When the slaughterhouses bar the doors to reporters, or the companies refuse to tell us who their suppliers are or exactly what’s in the food.  And I think that’s something we can all agree on as consumers and citizens, to demand a more transparent food chain.”

I don’t think there is any way I can say it better than that.


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