Michael Pollan vs. Whole Foods?
It was a busy spring for journalist Michael Pollan and the summer is proving to be even more so. Since the publication of his controversial book on the state of American agriculture and food systems, "The Ominivore's Dilemma,", Pollan has been interviewed in countless publications, (including The Washington Post Food section and in a live chat on washingtonpost.com.
In May, Pollan began writing dispatches in blog format as a guest columnist for the New York Times Select Web site. His first post, dated May 7, challenged the business practices of Whole Foods Market, the subject of an entire chapter in his book.
In a bold move, the corporate world bit back, but this time in the form of an "open letter" available for public consumption. In his blog on the Whole Foods Web site, CEO John Mackey responds to Pollan's challenges on May 25, asserting that Pollan paints an inaccurate picture.
Two weeks later, on June 12, Pollan lobbies Mackey's volleyon his Web site, continuing a conversation that feels historic. When was the last time you remember a corporate honcho publicly taking heat and then willing to advance the conversation in public? The letters are long and perhaps this is all a great marketing vehicle, but who cares if it keeps corporate America on its toes?
True to form, Mackey has replied in great detail this week, dissecting Pollan's response paragraph by paragraph. I await the next chapter of what feels like an unprecedented and important debate on the industrialization of the food we eat.
Are you eating your vegetables? Step to it! With the constant flow from local farms, this is the time of year to get your fill. Need help getting started? Join me at 1 p.m. ET for my monthly What's Cooking Vegetarian chat.
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