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R E OF TH SOTA v ieggieNVEM OWVIMAK”-‘::` are consumed, and the government borrows more money as the Treasury bleeds the nation dry. The final rung of this inherently anti-capitalistic system is the consumer who, until now, may never have considered the political and moral consequences of subsidizing “high fructose corn syrup . . . but not carrots.” And with that typically poignant point, Pollan’s brilliant exposition of corn concludes by reminding us that, like it or not, those of us who eat are complicit in this culinary-industrial racket. This condemnation of corn, of course, requires an alternative and viable means of food production. What Pollan offers is certainly a dramatic alternative. ‘Whether it’s viable or not is another question. The industrial vortex into which Naylor has been sucked is radically counterbalanced by another of Pollan’s mealsthis one prepared with goods produced on the Virginia farm of Joel Salatin. Salatin is a libertarian environmentalist who thinks that the federal government should rot in hell and that cities serve no good purposesort of a latter-day William Jennings Bryan \(in Salatin’s farm, is a pastoral microcosm that adheres to “a strict construction of the word sustainable.” Pollan is completely enthralled with the place, and for many good reasons. Whereas the basis of industrial agriculture a la Naylor is monocultural corn destined for a CAFO, the basis of Salatin’s small \(not officially animals that feed on grass. With fields of multicolored grasses spread before him as he works for a week on Salatin’s farm, Pollan breaks into rhapsodic fits of ecstasy: A AT U AL H STORY FOUR MEALS “Grass,” so understood, is the foundation of the intricate food chain Salatin has assembled at Polyface, where a half dozen different animal species are raised together in an intensive rotational dance on the theme of symbiosis. Salatin is the choreographer and the grasses are his verdurous stage; that dance has made Polyface one of the most productive and influential alternative farms in America. And when the dance comes to a seasonable end, the audiencewhich has come from all over the stateconverges on Swoop, Virginia, like culinary disciples at the end of a pilgrimage. They happily purchase Polyface beef, poultry, and produce for far more than grocery store prices, and they drive back home to eat “completely off the grid.” All because of grass grown by the sun and fertilized with manure from happy animals that eat grass. The simplicity and beauty of it all is, as Pollan tells it, truly astounding. Polyface might be idyllic, charming, small, and ecologically balanced, but for all these reasons, it’s also an unrealistic blueprint for national food productionat least as the nation currently lives, drives, and works. As brilliant as Pollan’s explication of Salatin’s farm is, there are several points he either touches on briefly or does not explore at all, points which challenge the assumption JUNE 2, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25