I read with interest the article about Harris Beef Ranch Company objecting to Michael Pollan’s appearance at Cal Poly (“Controversy erupts over Michael Pollan’s Poly lecture,” Oct. 8). The animal agricultural giant threatened to withdraw a promised donation for a new meat processing facility (slaughterhouse) on campus if Pollan’s appearance weren’t matched by “balanced” views. President Baker responded to the head of Harris Ranch (in part): “Our singular goal is to. . . make sure that our students are familiar with the full range of ideas that are being advanced today.”
Pollan will now be part of a panel, including a meat-science expert and the head of Earthbound Farms. What interested me is that Cal Poly’s agriculture department has promoted Big Ag for decades. Only very recently has there even been a tiny nod given to other ways of growing food, and most of that effort has gone into the growing of plants, not animals. Where has the balance been all these years?
More importantly, if President Baker and the College of Agriculture are truly interested in presenting a “full range of ideas” where on this panel is the representative for the animals? Where does “sustainable” really come in? Both Pollan and the meat-science expert have no problem with killing animals for food, even though research shows that all animal agriculture is damaging to the environment. Don’t believe me? Check out Mike Tidwell, environmentalist, writing in Audubon Magazine: “. . . But with global warming, here’s the inconvenient truth about meat and dairy products: If you eat them, regardless of their origin and how they were produced, you significantly contribute to climate change. Period. If your beef is from New Zealand or your own backyard, if your lamb is organic free-range or factory farmed, it still has a negative impact on global warming.”
Tidwell’s well-reasoned discussion on this subject can be found in the Jan-Feb 2009 issue of Audubon or at audubonmagazine.org/features0901/viewpoint.html.
If the panel is to include a full range of information, the real connection between meat-eating and the environment needs to be addressed.