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6 Ways to Reclaim the Food Chain (Michael Pollan Video)

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Food safety breaches like the recent E. coli outbreak in Europe signal warnings about the safety our food chain. In this clip from Nourish, author Michael Pollan discusses the biology and ecology of modern food chains.

What’s a Food Chain?
Food chain
is a term from ecology that describes who eats who or what. These relationships form an ecological community known as a food web, which connects all types of life: plants, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, decomposers. A familiar food chain flows from grass (plant), which gets its energy from the sun, to cow (herbivore) to human (omnivore).

With humans at the top of the food chain, how we produce and consume food has broad implications for the animals and plants within the greater food web. Our modern food system has evolved to include many complex processes, from growing, harvesting, and processing food, to marketing, distributing, and consuming it. The use of machines, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and genetic engineering in agriculture, as well as the advent of processed foods, such as high-fructose corn syrup, can betray the biology underlying this system.

The intricacy of the modern food chain has distanced many people from the source of our food, while creating lasting impact on our environment, animal welfare, food security, and health. The recent E. coli outbreak in Europe, in which the use of agricultural antibiotics in livestock has been implicated in breeding antibiotic-resistant pathogens that contaminated vegetable irrigation water, points to dangers and disconnects in our industrial food chain.

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Nourish is an educational initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability, particularly in schools and communities. To inform and inspire the largest number of people, Nourish combines PBS television, curriculum resources, web content, short films, and teacher and youth seminars. Nourish is a program of WorldLink, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education for sustainability.


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3:30PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012


1:41PM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

great article, thanks :)

6:16AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Interesting article

9:46AM PDT on Jun 25, 2011

I hope that as the gas costs rise, the high distribution costs of food from far away will become prohibitive and we will be eating local in spite of agribusiness' best interests.

11:16PM PDT on Jun 22, 2011


11:45AM PDT on Jun 21, 2011


11:45AM PDT on Jun 21, 2011


3:33PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Pollan has the quiet sensibility that only someone who has made this his life's work can hold.

12:15PM PDT on Jun 20, 2011

Noted. Thank you.

5:25PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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