I found out this morning that my alma mater (The University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I did my dietetic internship and received my MS in Nutritional Sciences) has instituted their first campus wide 'common book' with their Go Big Read! program featuring In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. This book was chosen by popular demand and is sure to provide considerable discussion at a land-grant university where the focus of education, research, and outreach have historically been an influential factor in the "get big or get out" direction of agriculture.
Indeed, I hope there are some thoughtful, and even uncomfortable, discussions within the Nutritional Sciences Department with the reading of this book on campus as those faculty are currently participating within a much larger effort called for by the Dean of UW's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) for all departments and faculty members to review and reorganize all of their efforts in order to best address the future sustainability of our country's food and agricultural system.
Secondly, Michael Pollan (also the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma) wrote an op-ed article printed in today's New York Times that finally calls out loud and clear, in black and white for all to read, the urgent changes needed in our country's food and agricultural systems in order to achieve the hoped for benefits of health care reform (which is currently spending 75% of all health care dollars on 'disease care' due in large part to our country's broken food and agricultural system).
Yes, the time is now. If not now, when? Have you heard the quotation by William McDonough who is noted for saying "If you want to go to Mexico, and you're driving toward Canada, even if you slow down, you're still going to Canada." Just changing anything about health care is not enough, it is only the first step, it is just "slowing down" on the road on which we are going the wrong direction with our current 'agri-business' and non-sustainable food systems.
I urge you to read Michael Pollan's article. It is short (for Michael Pollan) and to the point. It finally calls out "the elephant in the living room" that can be ignored only by averting our eyes and ears when someone finally says "but the emperor has no clothes on!" Health care reform will not bring this country back to health or wealth unless it is paired simultaneously with true prevention by changing our food and agricultural policies and providing full funding to those that promote affordable, clean, healthy, and just food for all.
Enough from me - I don't even know how to 'categorize' this post! Please go read Michael Pollan's article if you haven't already done so. :-) Then, if you are so inspired (I was!), please write President Obama, your senators, and your congressional representative to urge them to look at the very very very big picture and do everything possible to promote true health and wellness in this country. Only then will our nation truly thrive.
Diana Dyer, MS, RD