The Informavore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma is among the most provocative books I've read. It's fascinating to follow Michael Pollan on his quest to discover the origins of our food, and disturbing to witness the chemistry and cruelty of industrial farming.

An extended visit to Polyface Farm serves as the high point, providing an inspiring glimpse into the genius of Joel Salatin's information intensive approach to perennial polyculture. Here's an excerpt:

When a livestock farmer is willing to "practice complexity" - to choreograph the symbiosis of several different animals, each of which has been allowed to behave and eat as it evolved to - he will find he has little need for machinery, fertilizer, and, most strikingly, chemicals. He finds he has no sanitation problem or any of the diseases that result from raising a single animal in a crowded monoculture and then feeding it things it wasn't designed to eat. This is perhaps the greatest efficiency of a farm treated as a biological system: health.

To learn more, you can read No Bar Code or buy the book. And, you can find nearby farms using LocalHarvest or a Slow Food source in your community. That is, if you really want to know, because this topic often invokes the Informavore's Dilemma, also known as Mooers' Law:

An information retrieval system will tend not to be used whenever it is more painful and troublesome for a customer to have information than for him not to have it.

Michael Pollan offers us a simple choice between ignorance and information, and to select the latter leads us to a difficult choice between action, guilt, and denial. No wonder people don't read books anymore!