Brooklyn Farmer loves Michael Pollan


The White House Organic Farm Bus

The White House Organic Farm Bus

When I left work Friday, I thought I would try to arrive at Michael Pollan’s lecture at P.S.1 ten minutes early, but when I got off of the 7 train and turned the corner on Jackson Avenue, I realized I had not planned for the mob of Michael Pollan groupies who had surrounded the museum. The line outside P.S.1 at 6:50pm wound round the block, the next block, and then the next block again. I’m not sure exactly where I was in the line but people just kept showing up.

While I was waiting in line, a guy jumped out into the street directing a school bus to pull in front of the museum. The website on the side of the bus read I thought if I had been eating a Big Mac I would have had organic milk thrown on me. More on the magic bus later. After about 15 minutes or so of standing in line, a P.S.1 employee approached us (I was having serious doubts about even getting in at this point) and let us know that they were running out of space in the lecture hall. The line was still moving, so I decided to wait it out. When I got to the front, they really weren’t letting anyone else in. I said I would just pay the suggested $5.00 donation just to check out the situation.

I was then approached by Daniel from the White House Organic Farm project, thus the school bus and all the excitement out front. He let me know they were starting a petition for the next president to plant an organic farm on the front lawn of the White House. Visit for more information and to sign up for their mailing list.

I then made my way to the lecture hall and ended up with a spot standing in the back but I could still hear and see (the reflection of Michael Pollan in the mirrored ceiling) so that was something.


P.S.1 Lecture Hall

My view of P.S.1 Lecture Hall in the mirrored ceiling.

Michael Pollan started out by asking a question “What if we looked at it from the plant’s point of view?”. As human beings, I’m not sure if we are humble enough to put ourselves in this position, but I give Pollan credit for asking. He then described where his interest in investigating this topic stemmed from ten years ago. His thought process started while he was planting potatoes in his garden in Connecticut. If I had a little plot of land, I might have major epiphanies too.

What I thought about as Pollan continued to speak was – how could I not have learned about the relationship between plants and animals and their relationship to land in school? What seemed to me to be the most basic of premises on which farms are built had eluded me for most of my life. Now here I am living in Brooklyn wondering about farms and how I can get on one.

If I think about sustainable agriculture versus machine farming, as Pollan put it, I think the two sides of farming really speak for themselves. Pollan then asked, “Where is the animal’s point of view?”. Well, this is exactly why I started shopping at farmer’s markets – out of a desire to know where my food comes from. Pollan’s next question was, “How do we treat animals in confinement?”. I guess to really know the answer to his question I would have to visit a feedlot or a CAFO – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma Pollan devotes a whole chapter to feedlots. Pollan in his lecture discussed how if an animal is a machine, then a farm is a factory. Once he put it that way, I started to see how farming had perhaps become less about agriculture in the United States and more about capitalism. Except for the farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, who Pollan discusses in The Ominvore’s Dilemma, and countless other farmers. You can learn more about Salatin and Polyface at Pollan described Salatin’s farm as “an ecosystem, instead of a factory.”







As I left P.S.1 Friday night, I felt like I really needed to get closer to my food, to engage in more of a dialogue with it. I needed to get on a farm. When I woke up Saturday morning, Jonathan and I got on our bikes and rode to the Added Value farmer’s market in Red Hook. Tucked away at the very end of Columbia Street, sits Red Hook’s very own farm where I will hopefully be volunteering next Saturday from 9:00am until 3:00pm and getting closer to where my food comes from.

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2 Responses to “Brooklyn Farmer loves Michael Pollan”

  1. Friday: foiled, then fascinated « New Leaf New York: From Pharma to Farm Says:

    […] the brave Betsey at Brooklyn Farmer stuck it out, and she can provide the […]

  2. Jonathan Harford Says:

    Ms. Farmer: fauren.

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