Isn’t it amazing how you can talk to someone and realize that, just maybe, your viewpoint on an issue isn’t the only right one? I was just talking with a friend about Michael Pollan’s visit to Michigan State and what her opinions and thoughts on the visit were. While maybe I still hold some of my own opinions, our conversation made me really say, “Huh. I didn’t think about it that way.” Interestingly enough, that’s what Trent Loos mentioned was the response from a vegetarian when he explained to them the importance of eating meat. Not seeing things from all different sides is not a unique trait of any one group–we all do it at some point or another!
One of the most poignant questions my friend asked me was, “Have you read The Omnivore’s Dilemna or Food Rules?” Well…no. “Have you seen Food, Inc.?” Well….no. After hearing those answers, she strongly encouraged me to attend Pollan’s presentation, if only to learn what he thinks and why people follow him. My answers also made me realize, though, how much I was basing my beliefs on a single interview with Oprah or a few clips here and there from Food, Inc. Maybe I am the one who hasn’t been very good at being open-minded (something I usually pride myself on being).
Do I still think that Pollan should engage in some sort of dialogue where multiple viewpoints can be heard? Absolutely. Should it be an all-out debate? Probably not. As my friend pointed out so well, he’s a showman and debating him would be hard (and, honestly, probably rather pointless). Will I attend his presentation at the Wharton Center? Probably. There is a 15 minute question and answer part of the program, but–even if I don’t ask any questions–I will be able to say that, “Yes, I have heard what Michael Pollan believes.” and “After hearing him and truly listening to his stance, I now believe _______.” Right now, I can’t say that I have truly listened to his side and, for that, I am just as bad as those who attack agriculture without listening to or talking to a farmer. As agriculturalists, we must vow to be better than that.