Omnivorous Dilemmas: The Problem with the Pollanization of Environmental Ethics
A talk by Stefan Dolgert
Thursday, February 18, 2010 @ 4pm
In 2007’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan argues that “the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world.” And the way we are eating, he says, reveals a deep disconnection between Americans, their food, and nature. Pollan recommends that we return to the culinary traditions of our ancestors in eating foods that are local and natural, and his ideas have been profoundly influential in revitalizing environmentalism as a popular discourse of the American Left.
Stefan Dolgert is not convinced by Pollan’s “locavorism.” He challenges us to think critically about the anthropocentric underpinnings of Pollan’s ethics and about the global effects of eating locally. Dolgert explores several of the metaphors that underlie Pollan’s rhetoric, arguing that both Pollan and locavores are relying on a conservative fantasy that is dangerous as long as it goes unrecognized. Dolgert contends that this conservative vision deeply influences Pollan’s politics, and that food politics for the 21st century must be founded upon a different basis.
Stefan Dolgert is Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto. He is currently working on a book entitled Citizen Canine: Humans and Animals in Athens and America, which explores the relationship between sacrifice and the political status of humans and nonhumans.
Sponsored by the Department of Politics and Government and the Environmental Policy and Decision Making