there is some really interesting arguing going on about confinement pork right now.  

james mcwilliams, a really intelligent (vegetarian) history professor at texas state university wrote this op-ed which appeared in the nyt last week: free-range trichinosis

predictably (but nonetheless brilliantly) marion nestle presents us with this insightful response:

i wrote an email to mr. mcwilliams today saying that, though i don't really buy his argument (the numbers didn't add up for me even before i read marion's reply), i do appreciate people looking at the food system's problems from different angles.  it's the only way we'll ever fix anything.  

it's good to get out of berkeley, and my recent trip to seattle reminded me that:

1) everyone doesn't and can't think about and prioritize food the way i do.  heck, if i didn't do the work i do, i couldn't afford to eat the way i eat.  i'd still eat organically and healthily, but i'd eat a lot less meat and a lot more beans.  

and 2) there are people outside of the cp/bay area circles who are just as passionate about eating locally, seasonally, organically and in an environmentally friendly way.  i was really impressed with what i saw and felt going on around food in seattle.  in fact, i felt that in many ways, the movement to eat sustainably was actually more genuine and far less buzzwordy up there than it is here.  that being said, we went to two farmer's markets in two days, and i can count the vegetables i saw at both on one hand.  if such a green, forward thinking city has so little to offer at the farmer's market at the cusp of spring, then what are people in the much less liberal (and much more cold) midwest and north supposed to do?  do we really expect them to eat rutabaga and kohlrabi until july?  we need to start looking at things more open-mindedly, i think, if we really expect everyone to get on board.  

UPDATE: here is a post by ed levine on the topic


  1. you need to travel more than ever!

  2. Conscientious eating is actually a big deal here in Boston, too. Granted, it's a fairly liberal and cosmopolitan city, but it still isn't what you think of when you think of local, seasonal, and organic food. But CSA programs have really taken off here in the last few years, and there seems to be a generally high level of awareness, at least among people whose views I have a chance to hear. But our CSAs and farmers' markets don't even start until mid-May. It's too cold to have anything sooner.

  3. p.s. I got my own little seattle garden started- I picked up a few more things beyond what we got at the farmers market. I'm excited to grow my own food! Now if I could only grow my own cows... ;)

  4. I'm so out of the loop that I haven't even heard the term "confinement pork" before, but here is another take on the whole issue: We are becoming so accustomed to having everything we see, touch, look at and put in our mouths be so entirely sterile that we may have lost some of the immune system benefits that humans evolved over millions of years. Every time we are exposed to a new germ, our body begins the defense against it. When we stop being exposed, we inevitably are at higher risk for that exposure later on. I'm not saying that salmonella or trichinosis are good to have in pigs, but letting our food run around and be exposed to the things they are supposed to be exposed to might not be a bad idea.

    Enough of my podium on your blog though.