The below is a love letter I wrote to Michael Pollan which I first published on my blog in 10 June 2009. Pollan has written such books as the Omnivore's Dilemma and In the Defense of Food. They're basically just good reads, but chances are, they're going to make you think about what you eat and where it comes from which makes them pretty darn FANTASTIC reads.
Anyway, over the weekend, Inspector Climate and I went and saw Michael Pollan speak. When I get a moment, you can betcha your bottom dollar that I'll tell you about it, until then here is my letter of love.
I wrote this for a class this semester
and then received permission from my lecturer to repost it here. The
assignment was to use a piece of someone else's written work to write
about something that changed your view on the environment. It was
supposed to be autobiographical. I chose to write about this article by Michael Pollan
that was published in the New York Times in 2008. I tried to write
this other ways, but every time this is what spilled out of me. I had
to read this out loud. My voice shook as I declared my love for a man
I've never met. My face turned rosy as I let my true emotions surface.
My classmates laughed.
Dear Michael Pollan,
piece published in the Green Issue of the New York Times on April 20th
2008 gives me the warm fuzzy feeling that I get when I think about
puppies, Obama’s inauguration, Harvey Milk, and the anti- Vietnam War
movement. Yes, Michael, you make me believe that people can change.
You inspire me to change.
You write about An Inconvenient Truth
and how the most terrifying moment for you wasn’t the doom and gloom of
lost species, ecosystems, or the possibility of vast amounts of human
migration but Gore’s plea at the end for people to make a difference by
making the puny contribution of changing their light bulbs. Change
their light bulbs? That scared me too, Michael.
You write, “But
the drop-in-the-bucket issue is not the only problem lurking behind the
“why bother” question. Let’s say I do bother, big time. I turn my life
upside-down, start biking to work, plant a big garden, turn down the
thermostat so low I need the Jimmy Carter signature cardigan, forsake
the clothes dryer for a laundry line across the yard, trade in the
station wagon for a hybrid, get off the beef, go completely local. I
could theoretically do all that, but what would be the point when I know
full well that halfway around the world there lives my evil twin, some
carbon-footprint doppelganger…So what exactly would I have to show for
all my trouble?”
You ask for a return to community; you say,
“Cheap energy which gives us climate change, fosters precisely the
mentality that makes dealing with climate change in our own lives seem
impossibly difficult. Specialists ourselves, we can no longer imagine
anyone but an expert, or anything but a new technology or law, solving
You suggest I bother because maybe someone will
see me bothering and bother too; and someone else may see us bothering
and soon we have an avalanche effect of people who bother. A social
movement of botherers. And that, my dearest Michael, gives me the warm
Michael, I think I love you. For you to bother is
to garden. To cook home grown meals, at least in part, that family and
friends can enjoy together. Food that is grown by botherers and for
botherers. Oh, Michael, you suggest that “Maybe you decide to give up
meat, an act that would reduce your carbon footprint by as much as a
quarter. Or you could try this: determine to observe the Sabbath. For
one day a week, abstain completely from economic activity: no shopping,
no driving, no electronics. But the act I want to talk about is growing
some – even just a little – of your own food…measured against the
Problem We Face, planting a garden sounds benign, I know, but in fact
it’s one of the most powerful things an individual can do – to reduce
your carbon footprint, sure, but more important, to reduce your sense of
dependence and dividedness: to change the cheap-energy mind.”
right, Michael. Now, as I sit and reread your article I am thinking of
how I can plant lettuce and basil and oregano in my kitchen window.
And I will, Michael, I will.
I promise to bother.
With much love,
I planted basil in my window last week, Michael. As I let the water
run through the dry Australian dirt, I talked to my roommate about what
else we could plant. Rosemary is next. I thought of the dinners I could
make with my, albeit very small, garden; the friends I could invite to
partake in my little slice of independence, I thought of you, Michael,
and all the other people you’ve inspired to bother.