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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Month: November 2009

Thanksgiving message from spring Go Big Read speaker

Former U.S. Senator George McGovern has agreed to serve as the keynote speaker for the spring Day on Campus: Food Summit program. Read his thoughts related to global hunger and our relationship with farmers in his recent Sacramento Bee opinion piece: http://www.sacbee.com/1190/story/2350851.html

In it, he references “In Defense of Food” as well as the USDA’s recently announced “Know Your Farmer” program: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/%21ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2009/09/0440.xml

The Food Summit will be held on Friday, April 23 at Memorial union. For more information on the program visit: http://www.uwalumni.com/home/reunions/alumniweekend/alumniweekend.aspx

Heidi Zoerb
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Maira Kalman’s Thanksgiving “op-extra” column

Maira Kalman has long been one of my favorite artists, ever since I was first enchanted by her children’s book “Ooh la la, Max in Love.” She now writes these amazing pieces for the New York Times online that are illustrated columns; part of a monthly series called “And the Pursuit of Happiness” about American democracy. Her November column is titled “Back to the Land” and includes many of the themes about food explored in Michael Pollan’s work.

She visits Alice Waters’ home and restaurant, the farms that grow the food served at Chez Panisse, and a school that is part of Waters’ program called “The Edible Schoolyard,” taking photographs and offering commentary along the way. Michael Pollan makes an appearance (well, a photo of his hand does) and Kalman provides a thoughtful analysis of food issues as they relate to democracy and Thanksgiving.

Here’s an excerpt where she muses about the agrarian society envisioned by our forefathers: “Is there some inherent value to that way of life that we have lost? Is there some element of democracy that is diminished? We can’t all be farmers. You would NOT want to rely on me for your food. And what about getting the good food? Do the wealthy have access to the really healthy food while the less affluent do not? When you look at it that way it does not feel at all like a democracy. The fabric of our lives is bound in the food that we eat and the way we sit down to eat.”

Kalman’s illustrated story-telling of the exploration of these issues is both thought-provoking and delightful. I encourage you to visit this column.

-Carrie Kruse
Director, College Library
UW-Madison

Food For Thought: Weekly Online Book Discussion

Are you unable to attend one of the scheduled book discussions but want to get involved in the conversation?

Want to connect with people from all over the UW campus and the greater Madison community?

Join us in a virtual book discussion on the Food For Thought Posts in the Go Big Read Blog!

Each week, we will be posting a new topic for discussion on the blog, and followers are encouraged to participate by responding in the comment section below each post. Feel free to use and expand on these questions in your own book discussions. Have a great idea for discussion topic? Let us know! Contact the Go Big Read Program at gobigread@library.wisc.edu.
 
Food For Thought: Topic for Discussion Week of November 23, 2009:
 
Whom does Pollan blame for our dietary landscape?  What is the evidence?  Does he make a good case?

UW-Madison Local Food Event

Panel-Discussion Partnered by the 2009 Go Big Read Initiative

What are the benefits of buying local? Where can one find local foods? What businesses support local growers?

Inspired by the Go Big Read initiative, learn how to become a more conscious consumer in this discussion of local food. Ask questions to local growers, restaurant owners, the Dane County Farmer’s Market manager, and other groups committed to supporting local agriculture such as Buy Fresh, Buy Local; Willy Street Co-op; and F.H. King Students of Sustainable Agriculture.

The discussion will be held in the Open Book Café of College Library, Thursday, December 3rd at 5:00pm.

Food For Thought: Weekly Online Book Discussion

Are you unable to attend one of the scheduled book discussions but want to get involved in the conversation?

Want to connect with people from all over the UW campus and the greater Madison community?

Join us in a virtual book discussion on the Food For Thought Posts in the Go Big Read Blog!

Each week, we will be posting a new topic for discussion on the blog, and followers are encouraged to participate by responding in the comment section below each post. Feel free to use and expand on these questions in your own book discussions. Have a great idea for discussion topic? Let us know! Contact the Go Big Read Program at gobigread@library.wisc.edu.

Food For Thought: Topic for Discussion Week of November 16, 2009:
 
Pollan says that after 30 years of nutritional advice from health experts, we’re actually sicker than before. Do you agree?
 
What kind of evidence does he use to support that claim?

UW-Madison Local Food Event

Panel-Discussion Partnered by the 2009 “Go Big Read” Initiative

What are the benefits of buying local? Where can one find local foods? What businesses support local growers?

Inspired by the ‘Go Big Read’ initiative, learn how to become a more conscious consumer in this discussion of local food. Ask questions to local growers, restaurant owners, the Dane County Farmer’s Market manager, and other groups committed to supporting local agriculture such as Buy Fresh, Buy Local; Willy Street Co-op; and F.H. King Students of Sustainable Agriculture.

The discussion will be held in the Open Book Café of College Library, Thursday, December 3rd at 5:00pm.

A Wisconsin Farmer’s Response to Michael Pollan, Part V

Jambo, Bwana! (Hello, Mr.)

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, East Africa, I was able to live in a food culture similar to that which Mr. Pollan would have us aspire. Vegetables and variations of ground corn were the staples of the diet, when enough was available. While most people had adequate quantities of food, quality was sometimes an issue. There were from time to time, inadequate amounts of locally produced food to feed people, usually due to drought. It is not pleasant to watch fellow humans go hungry.

Among the things that impressed me was how much parents were willing to sacrifice so their children could have milk to drink. Another was how much everyone craved to have meat added to their daily intake of food. In fact, one of the ultimate expressions of friendship in our part of Africa was to treat your friends to a ‘quick kilo’ (one kilogram) of meat grilled to taste, if the local butcher had a side of beef hanging from a tree limb. Does this tell us something?

Pay More, Eat Less?

Among the suggestions Mr. Pollan gives in his book is that of farmers producing less food in an approved manner (organically) and consistency (leaves). He also suggests that we should be willing to pay more for this food and then eat less of it. Whatever dietary merits these ‘improvements’ bring to us as people in America, his suggestions will probably remain in the domain of the economically elite and intellectually effete’. With all due respect the rest of us live in a world where this menu is less than palatable.
The discussion generated by Mr. Pollan’s book has certainly been an opportunity to explore some issues pertaining to food and food production. The opinions I have ventured here are my own, but are probably shared by others in production agriculture. Here is my own variation on the Pollan Theme:

Eat responsibly. Eat together. Be grateful for abundance. Thank a farmer.

On, Wisconsin!
George H. Roemer
UW-CALS Class of ’70

Moderator’s Note: This is page 5 of 5. Read the rest: A Wisconsin Farmer 2010-25-09.pdf

Seeking Book Nominations for Sophomore Year of Go Big Read

Planning is under way for Go Big Read’s sophomore year, and nominations are now being accepted for next year’s book selection. Nominated books should do one or more of the following: promote enjoyment of reading by being readable, relevant and engaging; incorporate sufficient depth and scope to promote sustained discussion of different points of view; appeal to individuals from a variety of backgrounds; and have cross-disciplinary appeal and lend itself to tie-ins in a variety of activities and programming on campus. Read the full press release

Nominations will be accepted for two weeks via the online suggestions form.

Sarah McDaniel
Go Big Read

A Wisconsin Farmer’s Response to Michael Pollan, Part IV

Laced or Unlaced?

Mr. Pollan repeats the misleading anti-animal litany about dairy and meat products being “laced” with hormones and antibiotics. This is an insulting and inaccurate portrayal of today’s farmers who use modern technology responsibly for the benefit of their animal’s health and productive capacities.

Hormones occur naturally in all animal species. The hormone used to increase milk production in dairy cattle (recombinant bovine somatotropin, rBST) is a virtual copy of the naturally occurring dairy cow hormone (pituitary bovine somatotropin, pBST). Both are composed of the same amino acids (building blocks of homones) found in cattle. There is a difference of two pBST amino acids substituted by two different but naturally occurring amino acids in rBST. Furthermore, rBST has been researched and declared safe by government regulatory agencies; it also breaks down into its component parts during the process of pasteurization. (Note: it is illegal to sell unpasturized milk in Wisconsin).

The hormone used to stimulate beef cattle growth is typically implanted in an animal’s ear at a designated time, dissolves, and has no discernable presence when that animal is marketed. These relatively recent technologies enable those of us in production agriculture to enhance the efficiency of our operations while supplying an abundant and therefore low cost food supply to consumers.

It should be noted, not all farmers use these technologies; they are usually evaluated on a cost effective basis for each individual operation.

Anti-What (Or Whom?)

Antibiotics have saved countless human lives plus reduced suffering and misery worldwide. Why then, is there such a gap in logic, Mr. Pollan, that antibiotics cannot do the same for animals in production agriculture? Is it because we farmers are often dirty and sweaty while working? Are we all demonstrably incompetent? It is frustrating to be considered the least common denominator in the food equation.

Used responsibly, antibiotics reduce suffering and maintain productive health in farm animals. Strict state, federal and industry rules dictate their use. Veterinarians are routinely consulted and give careful guidance to farmers when dispensing certain drugs.

Milk marketed in the U.S. is regulated by Pasturized Milk Ordinance 40 (PMO 40). Under this rule, the tolerance for antibiotic residue in milk sold to the public is zero. Most dairies in the U.S. test every load of milk daily for antibiotics. Producers or processors who knowingly market milk, tainted with antibiotics, are subject to fines and even jail time. This system catches mistakes that may occur from human error while virtually ensuring an antibiotic free milk supply for the American public.

Meat marketed in the U.S. has a similar set of laws and regulations; 21 CFR 1589.2000-Drug Residue In Animal Tissue. As with PMO 40, the tolerance for antibiotic residue in meat sold to the public is zero.The safety net for American’s food supply is sadly misunderstood and unappreciated by those it protects. It is easy to make inciteful rhetoric about those of us who toil in production agriculture and take pride in producing a quality product.

Moderator’s Note: This is page 4 of 5. Read the rest: A Wisconsin Farmer 2010-25-09.pdf

The discussion generated by Mr. Pollan’s book has certainly been an opportunity to explore some issues pertaining to food and food production. The opinions I have ventured here are my own, but are probably shared by others in production agriculture. Here is my own variation on the Pollan Theme:

Eat responsibly. Eat together. Be grateful for abundance. Thank a farmer.

On, Wisconsin!
George H. Roemer
UW-CALS Class of ’70