Saturday, October 1, 2011

Does Michael Pollan belong in the Meat Industry Hall of Fame?

The 2010 class is pictured above. What about this year’s class?  Does Michael Pollan have a chance? Purists will scoff.  He doesn’t have the big numbers like, say, a Hormel executive who slaughters millions of pigs a year. And what about Michael Pollan’s scathing indictment of factory farms?  The true greats of animal slaughter don’t have qualms about what they’re doing.  Hormel executives don’t know what to make of the public outrage over videos documenting sadistic cruelty at supplier farms.  But this is exactly why Michael Pollan belongs in the hall of fame. He does understand that outrage and also the guilt some people feel for continuing to eat meat, and he showed the meat industry how to use this guilt to increase sales in his best-selling book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The dilemma in a nutshell is people feel bad about eating food that perpetuates the atrocities in factory farms.  But, damn, meat tastes good. The solution:  eat meat from farms where you can convince yourself the animals lived carefree pre-slaughter lives. Michael Pollan has made conflicted meat eaters feel good about eating meat and for that he deserves to be in the hall of fame.  To use a sports analogy, just as Yao Ming brought millions of Chinese fans to NBA basketball, Michael Pollan has made countless self-styled progressives realize they can profess concern about the suffering of animals and still eat those animals. I say he’d better get busy writing his induction speech.