Bill Maher Interviews Pollan

Michael Pollan was on Real Time with Bill Maher this past weekend, and here’s the ten minute interview. When it comes to food choices, Maher is probably the best-informed big name interviewer working today — I wish Oprah Winfrey or Jon Stewart knew half as much about food as Maher does. In fact, I’d pay more attention to Maher than I would to Pollan.

The whole interview’s great, although Pollan has a knack for always finding one topic that he’s catastrophically wrong about. This time around it’s when he addresses the collapse of tuna populations, while saying people should just eat a little of the stuff. He misses the point that if six billion people eat just a little tuna, soon there won’t be anymore tuna. (Via Markarian.)

Smithfield Lawyers Target “Pig Business” Film

I now have a new film at the tippy-top of my want-to-watch list: Pig Business.

The film was four years in the making, and looks at Smithfield Foods’ business practices. It was going to be broadcast in the UK last February, but litigation fears cancelled the screening. And this past week, a screening was postponed as a result of intervention by Smithfield’s lawyers.

Damn, you just know there’s some top-quality dirt in this film. I’ll definitely be watching this film the moment online viewing or DVD purchase becomes available. (Via Starkman.) Link.

Food Deserts

Time.com has an important article all about “food deserts” — impoverished inner city areas where residents lack affordable access to fresh produce:

The paucity of affordable, healthy food options in urban communities is ironic in a country with an abundance of food.

“Ironic,” yes, but a better choice of words would be “shameful.”

What’s horrifying about this story is how widespread these food deserts are. The article says half of Detroit qualifies as a food desert, and a fifth of Chicagoans likewise live in such a desert. All this means that millions of Americans would face significant cost and inconvenience if they switched to a healthy plant-based diet.

The second half of this article looks at a grocery that’s trying to do something about the food desert problem. It looks to be a monumental struggle that involves battling on many fronts. Link.

Organic Dairy Farmers Face Ruin

Brutal New York Times article about what’s happening to organic dairy farmers as recession-strapped consumers switch back to factory farmed milk.

Leaving animal welfare aside for a moment, I can’t see how any sane person would take up animal agriculture, whether factory farmed or organic. Sooner or later, unless you’re the 800 pound gorilla, market forces tear you apart. (Via Starkman). Link.

Tyson Settles Suit; Promises to Kill Several Hundred Thousand Birds

It’s been a long time since a meat industry story pissed me off so much.

Tyson Foods has been facing a lawsuit claiming that, between 1997 and 2003, the company bilked consumers by using a process that caused chicken flesh to soak up water. Today, the company agreed to settle the lawsuit — but it’s the chickens who will pay the price. The company will donate 1.7 million pounds of chicken to Illinois food banks, plus they’ll give the plaintiff’s lawyers $750,000.

I’m betting Tyson will get to write off the settlement as a charitable donation. Shame on Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn for approving this farce of a settlement. (Thanks, Bea.) Link.

Oven Roasted Corn On the Cob

Susan at FatFreeVegan.com just posted her latest recipe, and has decided that the term “Ridiculously Easy” is insufficient for how drop dead simple this recipe really is.

She just sold me on the idea that I should never boil corn again. Link.


Omnivore’s Book Burning Canceled at WSU

Turns out yesterday’s outrage over yanking The Omnivore’s Dilemma from a college freshman reading program has caused a quick about-face by the University. Thanks to a donation from an alum, Washington State University is now back on track to distributing 4000 copies of the book to incoming freshmen.

This of course changes nothing about the underlying power dynamic, and the undue influence that agribusiness has at the school. In fact, the 4000 books in question had already been purchased, but the fuckers at the university weren’t going to hand them out. (Thanks, Lisa.) Link.

Obesity and Homosexuality

Slate.com has an immensely irritating article on how society should respond to obesity.

The article puts obese people and homosexuals in the same boat: people are born destined to be gay or fat, claims the article — and obese people who want to slim down should consider gastric surgery.

It’s a stupid analysis since the right sorts of diets have been proven effective in helping people lose weight and keep it off. Link.