Pollan disgusted with industry's co-option of 'real food' movement


Food isn't grown on Mars, Michael Pollan muses, which is why the food industry has had no problem with a message to consumers about how "local" their food is. After books by Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan, and Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon became best-sellers by praising the consumption of local food, suddenly, "food miles" is on everyone's lips. Even on the lips of the companies whose products were the most reviled by these authors (say "Monsanto" in a Kingsolver book signing and prepare for screams of horror). Pollan calls their "ingenuity" in transforming "any critique into a new way to sell food" amazing.

Sure, if you look at the letter of the locavore law -- consume foods whose food miles are as low as possible, in other words, the ingredients were grown close to your stomach's place of residence -- most any food could be categorized as "local" for someone. However, the food industry is conveniently skipping over the "minimally processed" and "in season" part of a typical locavore's value system. Most flagrant: PepsiCo's (NYSE: PEP) Lay's chips are marketing the farms where the potatoes are grown; type in a code on the package, and you can find out whether your chips were created in the dirt of Idaho or Colorado.