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Month: February 2010

Memorial Library presents the film, “Fresh: New Thinking about What We’re Eating,” and a faculty-led discussion.

Thursday, March 11, 2010
5:00-7:00 p.m.
Memorial Library Commons, Room 460
Free and Open to the Public

Go Big Read and UW Memorial Library invites you to please join us for an engaging discussion with Professors Jack Kloppenburg and Jill Harrison from the UW-Madison Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, following screening of a new film, Fresh: New Thinking about What We’re Eating, by Ana Sofia Joanes. The film examines the food system and the sustainable agriculture movement.  Among several notable individuals, the film features Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Wisconsin’s own Will Allen, urban farmer activist and founder of Growing Power in Milwaukee.  This event, held in conjunction with the UW-Madison’s Go Big Read common-reading program and sponsored by Memorial Library, will provide a forum for students, faculty, staff, and community members to share ideas and perspectives related to the film and In Defense of Food.  Refreshments will be served.  

For more information about this event, contact: Rebecca Payne, 262-2387,

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual

In December 2009, Michael Pollan published a slim book called Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Pollan provides 64 rules that are supposed to help people make better dietary choices. Most of them sound similar to the ideas he talked about in In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Nancy Stohs from the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee) takes a look at his new book and gives her thoughts on the rules. She gives a run down of the most memorable rules and adds her own thoughts on how to interpret and use them. Stohs does say in the beginning of her piece that she felt pretty comfortable with her diet after reading this small book and that echoes what others, including Pollan himself, have indicated. Pollan chooses 20 of his favorite food rules from readers of Tara Parker Pope’s health blog, Well. These are others’ rules on how they eat. Pollan freely admits that the new book is a work in progress—he’s ready and willing to add or subtract rules.

P.S. If you want to know what Michael Pollan put in his new book, here’s an article he wrote about it for the Huffington Post.

National survey reveals that Wisconsin is a big player in organic farming

The Cap Times reported on February 11th that according to statistics released February 10th, 2010 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Wisconsin comes in second place for the number of organic farms in the state, surpassed only by California.

Wisconsin’s 1,222 organic farms cover 200,000 acres of land.  According to the survey, organic farms earned a similar income to mainstream farms (about $132 million), though the yearly expenditures of organic farms was somewhat less than other general types of farms.  The majority of income on organic farms comes from selling cow’s milk.

In a press release about the USDA survey on February 10th, Governor Doyle stated, “Farming is the heritage and the future of Wisconsin. “We’ve worked hard to strengthen and diversify agriculture across the state, and organic farming is one of the areas where Wisconsin is leading the way.”

To read the original article, click here.

Michael Pollan on the Oprah Winfrey Show

Michael Pollan appeared on the Oprah Show last Thursday, January 18th, 2010. He was promoting his new book, Food Rules and talk about the documentary film, Food Inc. Pollan’s brief appearance lasted about five minutes and during that time Oprah praised his book for being “eye-opening and thought provoking.” A question that Michael Pollan gets quite frequently is about what he himself eats. Pollan freely admitted to Oprah that he does eat sustainably raised animal-meat, arguing that animals that were well fed themselves (such as grass-fed cattle rather than corn-fed) in turn make more nutritious and healthy food sources for humans.

Oprah introduced a family who claimed that they could not afford to buy healthy food and asked Pollan how he would respond to this common problem. Pollan discussed what a shame it is that a family can buy fast-food for less than fresh produce. He referred to studies showing that calorie for calorie, people can get much more food for their money by shopping in the processed and packaged food sections of the grocery store instead of the produce section. Pollan argues that this is a result of government interest and subsidies in the corn and soy industries.

Both Pollan and Oprah stressed that the most important take-home point from this conversation is that the individual has power to make change. Organic and sustainable foods are expensive now, but if more people demand them the cost should come down accordingly. Pollan described how he shops for produce at his local farmer’s market whenever possible, and how he frequently buys food from the same farmer’s over and over again and has come to know them. Pollan stressed that although sustainable food products may not yet be affordable for everyone on a daily basis, starting small can make a big difference. By incorporting local and organic foods into even one meal a day can help help drive up the demand for the supply and eventually make it more accessible to everyone on a regular basis.

Oprah ended the segment that reminding the audience that everyone should have an opinion on these issues and it is up to the individual to decide what is right for them and their families.

To see a clip from the interview visit this website:

Did you see the Michael Pollan appearance on the Oprah show? What did you think of their conversation? What about his new book and the documentary they discussed–has anyone read/seen them? Comment on this post and let us know your thoughts. Let’s keep the conversation going!

Save the Date! April 23 Day on Campus: Food Summit

As a capstone event to the first annual Go Big Read project, CALS and the Wisconsin Alumni Association have teamed up to bring you a Day on Campus: Food Summit to continue the discussion of food in everyday lives. Day on Campus is a popular program and a great way for community members and student to grow and expand their knowledge as they learn from renowned UW faculty and explore campus. There will be four sessions throughout the day with 2 or 3 lectures to choose from in each session. The daylong event will be held April 23rd.

For more information and schedule, visit