Late Night Thoughts While Reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Penguin Press, 464 pages.

“Sustainable”is a great word and a great philosophy. Not just a philosophy of life, but of economy, politics, morals, etc. From now on, I’m going to make a concerted effort to ask myself, “Is it sustainable?” and try to get some direction from the answer. It seems like our whole country – and especially our government – is not paying any attention at all to this. Everyone is only concerned about right now, this minute, today.

Secrecy is killing us all. It’s not just the government. A totally private company, Cargill, won’t allow any documentation of its industrial processes – in other words, how is corn actually converted into all those various substances? They have nothing to lose or to hide – they are a private company, so no stockholders or SEC to worry about. They’re nearly a monopoly, so they can’t be worried about trade secrets. It’s just plain old paranoia.

It seems that nowadays, the default choice is “keep it secret”. Instead it should be the other way around – things should be kept secret and private only if it is an absolute necessity, and even then it should be for as short a time as possible. I remember a long time ago hearing that the ideal government should be completely transparent: It should have no secrets at all about anyone. That should be our golden standard. No secrets by default. Always.

Martin Schmitt was right all along, even though I still don’t like to eat my vegetables. I have no idea where Martin is these days – I just assume he’s still living at the top of Saddle Peak Road in Topanga – but he’d probably laugh heartily to hear me say that, 20 years later. Now I’m trying hard to live a sustainable life and eat organic food and use renewable energy… and I’m in my mid-forties, just now coming to this realization. Better late than never, I guess.

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