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ip DISSENT IS EDUCATIONAL. SUPPORT PUBLIC LIBRARIES and the Observer by donating a tax -deductible Observer subscription to the Texas public library of your choice. Visit our website , or public libraries and to order a subscription. TheTexasObserver OPENING THE EYES OF TEXAS FOR FIFTY YEARS est the environment, plant monoculturally, and reach markets in Europe and the West Indies. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of early American farming is the fact that livestock was either penned and fed farm refuse \(including graze far and wide on grass that was not at all “natural,” but rather imported from Europe and allowed to blanket the landscape like an invading army. From this historical perspectiveone that Pollan overlooksJoel Salatin is not in tune with the past. He’s radically contradicting it. And again, in theory, Pollan is right: He’s contradicting the past for the best of reasons. The extent to which Polyface can resolve the omnivore’s dilemma ultimately depends on who will hold the sway of public opinion on matters culinary: pragmatists or purists. On the pragmatist side, there’s Gene Kahn, a “pioneer of the organic movement” who went on to become a General Mills vice president, a position from which he pushes “organic food into the mainstream” as the head of Cascadian Farm. Kahn tells Pollan that we have a choice between “getting sad” about the organic food industry’s departure from its founding ideals or moving on. “We tried hard to build a cooperative community and a local food system, but at the end of the day, it just wasn’t successful,” Kahn explains. “This [food] is just lunch for most people. Just lunch. We can call it sacred, we can talk about communion, but it’s just lunch.” And then, of course, there is Michael Pollan, the optimist and idealist who, at the end of his book, is hunting his own boar, foraging his own mushrooms, diving in shark-infested waters for his own abalone, and, through it all, holding dearly to the belief that there is a place somewhere in the gut and mind of this fastfood nation where food is about more than “just lunch.” It would be nice if he were right. And not just in theory. James E. McWilliams is the author of A Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America and is currently writing a book on the history of pest control in the United States. 28 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 2, 2006