The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Food and its discontents

Big MacBy Robert Silvey

Michael Pollan’s delectable new book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, examines the wretched state of modern agriculture—and the unhealthy relationship most of us have with what we eat—by tracing the origin and consumption of four very different meals. He concludes that Americans now live in a wasteland of bland, interchangeable commodities, dominated by monocultured corn and fueled by imported oil. It’s not a pretty sight, but Pollan writes with such verve and insight that the book is hard to put down.

For the first meal, Pollen takes his family to McDonald’s; like 19 percent of all meals in the US, this one is eaten in the car. Next, he prepares a meal from ingredients labeled “organic,” a feel-good label that is now often applied to food produced in industrialized, energy-wasteful ways. He then visits a farm in western Virginia where sustainable multicrops, free-range animals, and ecological reuse create a happily updated version of the traditional family farm. And finally, he turns hunter-gatherer to create a meal with ingredients from the gardens and forests of Northern California: he shoots a feral pig, hunts mushrooms, picks cherries and lettuce, and even captures wild yeast for his bread.

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Bridging the digital divide: Edwards gets it

By Martin Bosworth

Those of you that read my personal blog or have followed my work at ConsumerAffairs.Com know that the concept of net neutrality is a hugely important issue to me. The concept of the Internet is built on the democratization of access–that everyone can speak their minds, share ideas, and interact on many levels. It’s as American a concept as baseball and apple pie, and the idea that telecoms such as AT&T and Verizon want to turn the Internet into gated communities like AOL, where all you do is passively consume the content they give you is, frankly, bullshit.

That’s why it did my heart proud to see John Edwards openly address the FCC on this issue not once, but twice–first on the issue of using wireless spectrum to build a national broadband network, and then directly on the NN issue itself. Continue reading

Dynamic duos (almost) never last…Woodward and Bernstein 35 years after….

I’ve been thinking about some of the famous duos that emerged in the 20th century: Batman and Robin, Ross and Rachel, Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Montana and Rice, Mantle and Maris, Martin and Lewis, Lucy and Desi….They cut across the panorama of popular culture.

How many of them lasted? Okay, Batman and Robin – but they’re fictional. And Ross and Rachel’s reunion was a put up job for ratings – and they’re fictional (sigh of relief). Jagger and Richards haven’t really been a dynamic duo since, arguably, It’s Only Rock and Roll (I don’t want to hear about Some Girls – the biggest song from that album was a disco tune). The rest, whether we like it or not, are relegated to “that dustbin” we call history.

Why bring this subject of duos up? It’s the 35th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. And of the forming of the unlikely duo – who became stars as a result of their reporting on that seemingly petty offense that led to the resignation of the guy who’s keeping George W. Bush from achieving the top spot as “worst U.S. President of all time” – Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Editor and Publisher offers an article on Bernstein on the occasion of this, to him at least, star-crossed anniversary. Continue reading

A short-term solution to our political debate problem

If you’ve been following the Presidential debates even as tenuously as I have, you’ve probably noticed that they’re, well, boring. All the candidates are playing to their base because that’s what they think will get them through the primaries and a win at the conventions. Unfortunately, the candidates are right – that’s how our severely broken primary system works (to get a better idea of how bad it is, check out the spat between the Democratic National Committee and the state of Florida over the state’s primary date). But I’ve avoided watching the debates because, as important as the next President is to me, I have better things to do with my time than watch useless political theatre where everyone’s lines have been public knowledge for months. Continue reading