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George Will On Pollan

March 10, 2009

George Will is a bit late to this party, about three years to be exact, but he has a column on Michael Pollan and corn, of course. He reviews the standard points of the “Pollan Premise”, ya know, cheap subsidized corn is fed to American livestock and makes people fat. But Will fails to take a broad enough look at the entire industry. He makes beef the bad apple, but compared to industrial pork and chicken, which spend their entire lives confined and stuffed with a corn/pharmaceutical cocktail, beef cattle spend a significant portion of their lives on open range eating grass, and having a far smaller environmental impact. It is only at the end of the process that cattle are finished in feedlots. He also makes no mention of significant parts of the premise, such as how there are profitable farmers that produce meat outside of the government matrix of regulations and inspections, and without feeding grain. Perhaps George is only a third of the way through Omnivore’s Dilemma.
I would be remiss not to mention Steve Cornett’s rebuttal. Cornett, always the defender of his state supported business model, is a bit threatened by the possible loss of grain subsidies, which keep his inputs cheap, and the independent rancher dependent on his level of the beef distribution chain.

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