Michael Pollan's letter to Obama

This is hardly a new article, but I'm so busy that I don't ever get to reading issues of the New Yorker or NYTimes until weeks, sometimes months later.

In the food issue of the NYTimes Magazine from Oct 9, Michael Pollan pens an open letter to the President-Elect urging for a reform in U.S. food policy. It is one of the best articles I've read all year, appropriate for both those already familiar with food policy and those who don't know the first thing about where the food on their dinner plate comes from.

Pollan's thesis:

There are many moving parts to the new food agenda I’m urging you to adopt, but the core idea could not be simpler: we need to wean the American food system off its heavy 20th-century diet of fossil fuel and put it back on a diet of contemporary sunshine.

The most fascinating part of the article is Pollan's history of how our current food production system came to be.

After World War II, the government encouraged the conversion of the munitions industry to fertilizer — ammonium nitrate being the main ingredient of both bombs and chemical fertilizer — and the conversion of nerve-gas research to pesticides. The government also began subsidizing commodity crops, paying farmers by the bushel for all the corn, soybeans, wheat and rice they could produce. One secretary of agriculture after another implored them to plant “fence row to fence row