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Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food Causes Campus Debate


In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael PollanUp for debate on the campus of University of Wisconsin-Madison is not how far the Badgers will go this football season but how food is produced and eaten.

Discussions stem from Michale Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto which the university handed out for free to all incoming freshmen. Professors have also been encouraged by school officials to use the book in their classes.

While students are excited about how the book has fuelled debate which in turn has served to connect students to one another, local dairy farmers are none-too-pleased.  They see Pollan’s call to action—Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.- as an attack on modern farming and are seeking an opportunity to present their side of the story to students.

Pollan’s blaming of scientists for the preservatives in food and the replacement of true nutrition with ‘food’, has also drawn criticism from at least one UW-Madison professor.  John Lucey, who is a  food scientist as well as a professor wrote on a university web site that scientists have helped preserve foods longer, improved food safety and cut meal preparation time for busy parents.

In Defense of Food was chosed by UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin who started the “Go Big Read” program where the campus is asked to read the same book. She said she chose Pollan’s book because of its coverage of several topical national issues.

“This is our core business at the university — taking something that interests a significant number of people and let people talk about it from every conceivable point of view,” Martin said. “I love this give and take. That’s what a university is about.”

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