Thanks to Sonja Swift for her commentary on Gary Smith (“What possessed Cal Poly to pick Gary Smith?” Oct. 29). I too was dazed and crazed after attending the Michael Pollan panel discussion at Cal Poly. As I organized my thoughts, I realized what a great choice Gary Smith actually was for representing the Harris Ranch faction: Who could have insisted more than he that sustainability is a concept that only has meaning based on what’s being sustained; in his case, extreme profiteering by a select few corporate giants? What nonsense.
Sustainable agriculture is the sustenance of life, supporting ecosystems and the inhabitants within. How could it be any other way, if life is to continue?
Gary Smith admitted that he has never farmed a day in his life and his six children and 13 grandchildren have no interest in following in Mrs. Smith’s family footsteps, carrying on the wheat farmer tradition on land they stand to inherit. I wonder why.
Farming is hard work. There are no free lunches and paid vacations. Making ends meet is an ongoing process, not to mention a bureaucratic nightmare for the small farmer who’s trying to compete against the driving agribusiness engine.
What is the value system here that the masses supposedly demand “cheap food?” Such people as Mr. and Mrs. Smith salute food technology’s modern conveniences, because processed-food choices allow them to keep up their busy lifestyles of soccer mom and ag-consultant dad. Cheap food is their goal. The definition of cheap is: substandard, lesser quality, inferior. Degrading one’s health just to save a buck is twisted psychology. No wonder we find ourselves with a health-care system in crisis.
I am a graduate of Cal Poly’s Nutrition Science program and have read Pollan’s work. Many thanks to him for his enduring research and eloquent writing balance.