S U S T A I N A B L Y

10 Words or Less with Lathe Poland of the film "Carb Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat"

We recorded this interview Friday, Oct. 3, two days after the film's release. Poland and his partner, Eric Carlsen, financed the film, which looks at how America feeds itself and the effects thereof, through Kickstarter. As regular readers know, I'll be following up this post with an edited text version of the interview sometime in the next week. But for now, our conversation just as it happened...


"The death bed is a horrible place to learn about food safety."

Darin Detwiler and I conducted this interview on Thursday. Detwiler is the senior policy coordinator for Stop Foodborne Illness and an instructor on regulatory affairs and food industries at Northeastern University. As I do, he has a deeply personal motivation to be in his line of work: His son was one of four young people who died in the 1993 E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants in the Northwest. He tells that heartbreaking story in the interview, while also sharing vital information of use to anyone who eats.


Corn refiners delight in evidence that they're being perceived as only as bad as the other sugars

For a few years, a small set of food-product entries have been boasting that they have “real” sugar, instead of the demon high fructose corn syrup. But that trend appears to be slowing, says this story from foodnavigator-usa.com


Where is the line, between environment and us?

Nobody admirers a hijacker, so I’m being imprecise, at best, when I opine that “environmentalists have hijacked sustainability.” I don’t meant to impute evil at all — hell, until very recently, I’d have self-identified as one, and our aims still essentially align. And I don't mean it literally.


Extract the goodness, to put some of it back

Wonder Bread signWhen I was a kid, and maybe still today (I don’t care enough to look it up), Wonder Bread touted that it “buil[t] strong bodies 12 ways.” What was really going on is that its food technologists had started with grain products of nature, “refined” it beyond recognition, and then tossed in a bunch of nutritive additives to make up for what they had taken out. In effect they were saying, “look at all the goodness we’ve added, so you won’t notice all the goodness we took out.”

What resulted, of course, were slices of blindingly white near-paste that could be compressed into a ball that would have hurt if launched in a food fight. It seems so ‘60s, but check this out:

PepsiCo is seeking to patent a method of adding fiber- and polyphenol-rich co-products from fruit and veg juice extraction back to juices and other beverages in a bid to improve their sensory and nutritional profile, and minimize waste from the juice extraction process. ~ FoodNavigator-USA.com

Still crazy after all these years — breaking what’s good down into its parts, and then trying to figure out how to put more of it back in. How ‘bout, don’t break it down in the first place?


Wendell Berry and Allan Savory, brothers to me

A central part of the message I deliver to audiences is that nature is the only teacher of sustainability we will ever need. It’s been sustaining life on earth for 3.8 billion years, while humans have been upright only for about 200,000 years; the experience gap is obvious.

 I am not, of course, the originator of this idea, that humans are part of nature, not apart and certainly not above it, and the most prudent direction for all of us is to follow nature’s lead. I wouldn’t cast that as an absolute, but only because absolutes are bad every time.


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