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Hey, he's one of our local celebrities! Not only a smart guy, but a really nice guy, at least according to people I know who've worked with him organizing talks and other events. Not a prima donna at all. I've seen him at our local greasy-spoon Thai restaurant eating various strange animal parts. :)
 

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I taped the Oprah episode and am looking forward to watching it. Just yesterday, I listened to one of his speeches on my drive home from work. I had downloaded it onto my ipod a while ago, so must have got it on itunes, but you can also listen to it here. Very interesting.
http://wordforword.publicradio.org/programs/2007/06/08/

This was a recent article in the LA Times about Pollan speaking at Cal Poly and how the school gave in to the wishes of a large cattle farmer. My dad considers Pollan one of his heroes and was so infuriated.
Agriculture critic's appearance angers university alumni

The planned lecture on sustainable farming by Michael Pollan at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is changed to a panel discussion after the head of Harris Ranch Co. threatens to pull his financial support. When officials at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo scheduled a free lecture by bestselling author Michael Pollan, they envisioned a lively talk about sustainable food, along with Pollan's customary critiques of agribusiness.

What they didn't expect was a wave of denunciations from angry farming and ranching alumni who rank Pollan as a force only slightly less damaging to agriculture than the Mediterranean fruit fly.

Threatening to pull his donations, the head of one of California's biggest ranching operations succeeded in turning today's planned lecture into a panel discussion involving Pollan, a meat-science expert, and a major grower of organic lettuce.

Pollan assented but said in an interview that the incident raised troubling questions about academic freedom.

"It's an open threat to the university," he said. "The issue is really about whether the school is free to explore diverse ideas about farms and farming."

Pollan was the star attraction at a fundraising dinner for Cal Poly's sustainability programs Wednesday night.

For David E. Wood, chairman of Harris Ranch Beef Co., Pollan's solo lecture would have provided the author of such books as "The Omnivore's Dilemma" a soapbox for "anti- agricultural views."

"While I understand the need to expose students to alternative views, I find it unacceptable that the university would provide Michael Pollan an unchallenged forum to promote his stand against conventional agricultural practices," Wood wrote in a Sept. 23 letter to Cal Poly President Warren Baker.

Wood has pledged $150,000 toward a new meat processing plant for the campus cattle herd. In his letter, he said Pollan's scheduled appearance had prompted him to "rethink my continued financial support of the university." He also criticized an animal-sciences professor who said that conventional feedlots like the one run by Harris Ranch were not a form of sustainable agriculture.

Harris produces and markets 150 million pounds of beef a year. As many as 250,000 head of cattle annually are fed on a grain diet at the company's sprawling feedlot beside Interstate 5 in the San Joaquin Valley. In a 2008 interview with The Progressive magazine, Pollan said the sight of the "manure-encrusted" acreage was one of the things that permanently changed the way he ate.

Cal Poly officials said they had contemplated using Pollan's talk as the basis for a panel discussion at some point -- but the negative reaction to the planned lecture from Harris officials and others propelled the plan onto the front burner.
 

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Ah, Harris Ranch. Have you ever driven past their feedlot near Coalinga on I-5? As one of my friends (hard-core libertarian, global-warming denying) likes to say, "you can smell the misery from two miles away." This gives me one more reason not to buy their meat. It's tasty, but at what price? These guys produce equally tasty, if not better, meat, at a similar cost: http://www.marinsunfarms.com/ Their pastured eggs are the best I have *ever* had--the only ones that remind me of the ones we got from our chickens when I was a kid.
 

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I taped the Oprah episode and am looking forward to watching it. Just yesterday, I listened to one of his speeches on my drive home from work. I had downloaded it onto my ipod a while ago, so must have got it on itunes, but you can also listen to it here. Very interesting.
http://wordforword.publicradio.org/programs/2007/06/08/

This was a recent article in the LA Times about Pollan speaking at Cal Poly and how the school gave in to the wishes of a large cattle farmer. My dad considers Pollan one of his heroes and was so infuriated.
Pollan assented but said in an interview that the incident raised troubling questions about academic freedom.

"It's an open threat to the university," he said. "The issue is really about whether the school is free to explore diverse ideas about farms and farming."
This speaks volumes about that University, and the people who accept funds in exchange for "turning a blind eye".
 
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