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Agribusiness Allergic to Pollan


zoramargolis
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The young, networked as hell, and not easily sold Pollan supporters will eat this up like good cookies (whole grain, of course).

Ha! Brilliant. I totally just snarfed water at my desk reading that.

I have to agree that it's rather impressive that agribusiness has sat up and taken notice. What happens when Goliath finally notices David?

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What happens when Goliath finally notices David?

Is Pollan really still a "David" or has he become a "Goliath" himself? He is a multi-media machine and is able to generate tremendous amounts of media traffic wherever he goes and with whatever he says. His books, speaking engagements and public appearances are highly lucrative. Michael Pollan is not a farmer, a dietitian, or a food scientist. He is journalist who has written some commercially successful books that have propelled him into a position of New-Foodism "expert" and mouthpiece.

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Is Pollan really still a "David" or has he become a "Goliath" himself? He is a multi-media machine and is able to generate tremendous amounts of media traffic wherever he goes and with whatever he says. His books, speaking engagements and public appearances are highly lucrative. Michael Pollan is not a farmer, a dietitian, or a food scientist. He is journalist who has written some commercially successful books that have propelled him into a position of New-Foodism "expert" and mouthpiece.

I don't dispute that at all -- it's a good point. It's still a small group of people, with (at least) one efficient mouthpiece, against an entrenched monolith. Which I suppose is theoretically the point of the fourth estate, when it works, anyway...

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I don't dispute that at all -- it's a good point. It's still a small group of people, with (at least) one efficient mouthpiece, against an entrenched monolith. Which I suppose is theoretically the point of the fourth estate, when it works, anyway...

No sooner had I read your response, than this shows up in my inbox. :(

From: Michael Pollan Inquiries <inquiries@michaelpollan.com>

Date: Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 12:10 AM

Subject: [Pollan Events] Young Reader's Edition

To: events@lists.michaelpollan.com

Friends:

You might be interested to know that, today, Dial Books published a new young reader's edition of The Omnivore's Dilemma, aimed at middle- and high-schoolers. It's shorter and more streamlined, but also has some new material and a wealth of visuals-- photographs, charts, graphs, etc. Here's the Amazon link (though if you're interested I hope you'll buy it locally):

http://www.amazon.com/Omnivores-Dilemma-Kids-Secrets-Behind/dp/0803735006/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255665916&sr=1-1

Also, you might enjoy this song, based on the book (or so it seems to me):

http://www.myspace.com/milliondollarnile

scroll down to "What you don't know". It's actually pretty good and funny.

All best, Michael

_______________________________________________

Events mailing list

http://lists.michaelpollan.com/mailman/listinfo/events_lists.michaelpollan.com

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No sooner had I read your response, than this shows up in my inbox. :(

I'm sorry, but I am having a hard time deciphering the unpalatable news in the Pollan email broadcast. He's reaching the younger audience, actively pursuing them for his products and message.

Is his making money while doing this the issue here?

In that case:

1)Who would you rather see getting these ideas out to this critical demographic?

2)What would have to happen for such messaging to begin, i.e., how likely is it that it could start in the next couple of months?

Thanks for helping me see the possibilities playing out in your worldview here.

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I'm sorry, but I am having a hard time deciphering the unpalatable news in the Pollan email broadcast. He's reaching the younger audience, actively pursuing them for his products and message.

Hey there -- I don't think you were asking me specifically, but from my point of view, the email posted isn't an issue. Generally, though, I think we've all seen what can happen when the person becomes bigger than the message ... and that's not to say it's something the person in question even pursues or wants; sometimes it just happens! Hence my comment that the fourth estate works in theory, but not always in practice. (And every time I use the phrase "in theory," I hear, in my brain, the immortal words of one Homer J. Simpson: "In theory, Communism works. In theory..." Hee!)

At this point, I don't think Michael Pollan has compromised journalistic integrity in order to profit. For me, that's the line that matters. Then again, I actually don't follow him as closely as others might, so I'm definitely not informed enough to insist I'm right. :(

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This seems like a simple economics discussion - I hadn't heard of Mr. Pollan.

For the agribusinesses that are adaptable, any shift in demand (say, to those promoted by Mr. Pollan) would also present an opportunity to gain marketshare - from those companies that are NOT adaptable.

Those companies that cannot adapt will do a simple cost/benefit analysis and decide to spend money to fight the tide. And the money they spend may become shockingly large - as they've decided that no amount of money can make them adapt, and, once "in for a dime, in for a dollar" when fighting for thier livelihood.

Those companies that can adapt are conversely planning and acting to take advantage of such shifts. There can be success there, as evidenced by Whole Foods. And note that the scale of that success will be directly proportional to the scale of the shift in demand. So if Mr. Pollan remains only a small blip, then the adaptable company will only see small gains (on their small investment). If the demand shift becomes wholesale, the adaptable companies will see wholesale shifts in their business, eventually guiding their ship to sail on very different seas.

So it is telling to see how each company approaches such situations. And it is very easy to spot which companies will be around for the long haul should a shift occur.

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No where am I seeing mention of two things:

1. Mr Wood already pledged the $500K for a particlar project and now is threatening to withdraw the pledge. When I was growing up, the non-PC term for that was "indian giving" and was on a par with being a snitch - which is to say, about as low as one can go. Is no questioning his basic character? A stand up person might say "I may not give again in the future" but does not renig on promises.

2. Is Mr Wood getting a tax deduction from this? If so, IRS rules are pretty clear about quid pro quo situations, and while the world is full of them, they usually aren't on paper and held out as threats. The IRS should disallow any tax credit for the donation - but only AFTER it was made, and once the tax return (of Mr Wood or the Harris beef co, whichever made the donation) is filed.

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I personally don't find the controversy between Wood and Pollan to be all that interesting. Wood is very much in the minority. My understanding is that most people in agribusiness merely find Pollan as a noisemaker, but no one is particularly scared of him. At the end of the day, it is all about $$$, simple economics. Agribusiness and small farmers run their businesses to maximize profit. If agribusiness or small farmers can produce a product that people want to buy and make a buck, they will. Look at organic- Everyone wanted it. Now everyone can have it. And if I can charge you 20% more because it's organic, all the way to the bank. If I can make it local, sustainable too, add another 20% on top.

Lets even look at one of Pollan's "rules" - "Avoid food products containing ingredients that are (a) unfamiliar, (:(, unpronounceable, © more than five in number, or that include (d) high-fructose corn syrup."

Drum roll.... Pillsbury simply cookies (http://www.pillsbury.com/products/sweet-treats/Refrigerated/simply-cookies.htm) - 5 ingredients, no corn syrup, everything mom would use. Thank you Mr. Pollan! (I'm sure there will be tons of new products that fit Pollan's rules in the coming months and years.)

At the end of the day, Pollan can say whatever he wants and believes. If his ideas gain enough traction and someone can make a buck off it, it will become reality for everyone and not the few elites like us who can afford the products he peddles now.

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This so reminds me of the way Oprah met Dr. Phil.

I wanna know why Michael Pollan hasn't appeared on her show yet, or has he? Did he refuse to have Omnivore's Dilemma become a book club selection, or were her producers scared they'd have fewer topics for shows if everyone read In Defense of Food?

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Drum roll.... Pillsbury simply cookies (http://www.pillsbury.com/products/sweet-treats/Refrigerated/simply-cookies.htm) - 5 ingredients, no corn syrup, everything mom would use. Thank you Mr. Pollan! (I'm sure there will be tons of new products that fit Pollan's rules in the coming months and years.)

That's why he changed his rule to <paraphrase> "Buy nothing that is advertised."
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