Minutiae, pages 159-207

I spent more time writing and researching this week than I did reading, so I don’t have a whole lot to report here. Here’s this week’s collection of little things:

  • In my copy of the book, the surnames of David Pimentel (a leading expert on energy use in food production) and Frank Perdue (founder of the chicken company Perdue Farms) are repeatedly misspelled. These have been fixed in the version on Google Books.
  • Pollan writes, “According to Cornell ecologist David [Pimentel], growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting that box of organic salad to a plate on the East Coast takes more than 4,600 calories of fossil fuel energy, or 57 calories of fossil fuel energy for every calorie of food” (167). This bothers me for reasons similar to something I wrote about in last week’s minutiae post. I don’t think it makes sense to look at the number of calories of fossil fuel energy per calorie of food energy because people aren’t eating salad greens for the calories. It would make more sense to compare fossil fuel calories to something that better measured the salad’s perceived value to the consumer, perhaps a number of servings or the amount of some nutrient. (For all I know, salad greens may not fare much better, there.)
  • Pollan says of his meal from Whole Foods, “All but one of the vegetables I served that night bore the label of Cal-Organic Farms, which, along with Earthbound, dominates the organic produce section in the supermarket” (174). However, he later tells us that his salad greens were grown by Earthbound (183). This seems like a contradiction.

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