Food has always been a central environmental concern, but there are some new issues arising. One is the growing conflict between fuel and food–or, one might say, between SUV drivers and the world’s poor–and another is the mass marketing–or, perhaps, the industrialization, of organic food.
It’s a little hard to tell whether Michael Pollan thinks the latter is a good thing or a bad one, in “Mass Natural” in the New York Times:
“This is good news indeed, for the American consumer and the American land. Or perhaps I should say for some of the American land and a great deal more of the land in places like Mexico and China, for Wal-Mart is bound to hasten the globalization of organic food. (Ten percent of organic food is imported today.) Like every other commodity that global corporations lay their hands on, organic food will henceforth come from wherever in the world it can be produced most cheaply. It is about to go the way of sneakers and MP3 players, becoming yet another rootless commodity circulating in the global economy.”
Pollan has got John Mackey, the founder of Wholefoods Markets, on the defensive, as you can see from Mackey’s blog. Investors adore Wholefoods, a company that markets virtue with staggering success, and that is, no question, a fascinating and attractive business. What I’m waiting to see is a campaign aimed, like the Church of England’s recently launched effort, at getting their customers to stop driving to the store. Or should Wholefoods ban SUVs from their parking lots?
And think of this: “The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year. The grain it takes to fill the tank every two weeks over a year will feed 26 people.” Read more.