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Day 3: "Big Organic"

Notes for Day 3 of Food for Thought

I. Coursekeeping

--books on reserve (after all)
--copies of conference schedule (and revisions for fac'y mtgs?--sorry!!)

II.Writing about writing:
Write for 5 minutes:
For me, writing is like….
What is it like, for you, writing generally?
What was it like for you, writing this paper?
What do you anticipate it will be like for you, writing for college?
How does that imagining differ from the writing you did in h.s.?

What (in short) is your metaphor for writing?
Share with a partner.
Introduce your partner and explain her metaphor.

III. Looking @ some writing samples: title and opening and closing lines
What do you see? (openings that make you want to read on…
…and conclusions that are connected to them--or not?)

IV. Let’s start looking @ Pollan today by talking about HOW he writes.
He starts Ch. 9 by talking about the “literary experience” of Whole Foods:
making the food chain “legible”—
An “important substitute for direct observation,”-- but
“labels are industrial artifacts” (i.e.: writing signals ABSENCE)

So: how can we learn to read responsibly?
How know if the story we’re being told is true?

Apply these questions to Pollan’s own writing:
Do you trust him? Why/why not?
How would you characterize his style?
In what ways did he work/not as a model for your own writing?

--a big problem for me: his ascribing conscious agency to plants
p. 129: “grasses’ existential challenge…strategy for world domination”
(whole premise of Botany of Desire: they are manipulating us….)

V. Which of Pollan’s ideas might you apply/
use to think further about your own family meal?

Reductionist science, vs. imitating whole natural systems

150: “antiscientific:” “ a healthy sense of what is not known keeps us
from reaching for oversimplifications” (limiting what we know?
acknowledging the limits of what we can’t know?)

“pragmatism”: call “true” whatever works,
a la Darwin: what works is what survives

in Albert Howard’s agronomy, science is a tool for
describing what works & explaining why

172: irony of industrial organic: more precarious than conventional system
Ritual space/symbolic offering/empty conceit/ideal of “range-free”

256: who is truly the realist…who the romantic..?
We live…in an era of “sentimental economics”

263: concept of a “foodshed” (regional food chain)

X. Images from my farm (and the story of generations:
my father's spraying, my daughter's organism, my husband's "organic style" apples...)







Images and Text from Polyface Farm Webpage:
"We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture. "
"We do not ship food. We should all seek food closer to home, in our foodshed, our own bioregion. This means enjoying seasonality and reacquainting ourselves with our home kitchens."

"Mimicking natural patterns on a commercial domestic scale insures moral and ethical boundaries to human cleverness."
"Our goal is to convey information about all the ministries of Polyface. It is not to sell product or answer questions. That is why it is not an interactive website."

X. For Thursday, read Chs. 16-17, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”
and "The Ethics of Eating Animals," pp. 287-333;

respond to new question up on course forum re: whether you trust Pollan
(free to put up other thoughts as they arise--as I have; don't have to answer prompt)

For Friday:
Last week most of you focused on the individual idiosyncracies of your family meal (or, mostly? of your family members). Your assignment this week is to enlarge the framework.  Write a 3-pp. paper ANALYZING your family meal through one of Pollan's lenses: what are its pleasures, and what are its (large scale) economic, emotional, political and/or social costs?

What you’re going for here is the back story of last week's sensory account: how did this food get to your table? Who produced the food, under what conditions? Who prepared it, ditto? (You could interview your mother....) What matters in that story—-and why?

same set-up as last week: by 5 p.m., e-mail it to me as an attachment