In 2006, Michael Pollan’s best-selling The Omnivore’s Dilemma was published and went on to be named one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times. Pollan set out to explore Americans’ relationship to food in three parts: industrial, pastoral, and personal. He looks at corn production and subsidization, the organic and local food movements, and hunting and gathering. Although no real solution is offered, he does find on this journey that the most sustainable food comes from the local movement.
He holds up Polyface Farm, the diversified farm of “many faces” (see last post), as a model. The owner, Joel Salatin, calls himself a grass farmer, because the cycle of moving livestock to greener pastures is what makes his farm special. His system is based on science, including the work of Andre Voisin, a French agronomist who wrote a treatise on grass productivity in 1959. Everything depends on the grass and its recovery after being grazed; if the cattle overgraze, the grass roots remain shallow, and the grass is jeopardized. In a nutshell, the cows graze a paddock and leave behind manure, the chickens follow and eat fly larvae in the manure (making their eggs rich and golden) and leave behind nitrogen-rich droppings, and then the pigs aerate the soil. This symbiotic approach keeps the grass (and everything that eats it) naturally healthy.
If you are looking for Christmas gift ideas, this is a good one! Here is where you can buy the book: