Thursday, May 28, 2009

The WSU Dilemma and An Attorney Who Cares

One person can make a difference.

I have been following a fascinating series of events in a true story about a lawyer, a university and a book.

In a nutshell, Washington State University in Pullman, WA canceled a program requiring all freshman to read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

"Earlier this month, the university announced that it was canceling a program requiring all incoming freshmen to read Mr. Pollan’s book, which links the agriculture industry to obesity, food poisoning and environmental damage." -The New York Times, May 28, 2009

Administrators said one thing about why they canceled the program-but students and faculty said another. An interesting aspect of the story is that "...others said the book was dropped because it attacks one of the university’s bases, Big Agriculture..."

The question is whether or not WSU dropped the program for political reasons or financial reasons.

Read more about the story in the New York Times article, linked above, or by looking at the Marler Blog where I learned the most about this issue because the man writing about it is the lawyer who offered to pay the difference to his alma mater for the program that would otherwise have been cut:

"Meanwhile, Mr. Marler posted a message on his blog about the episode, offering to underwrite the program’s cost: 'I have my checkbook ready.'" (NYTimes)

Why I care is because The Omnivore's Dilemma is a powerful, well-documented/researched educational tool for anyone who has the slightest interest in food, politics and agribusiness. Pollan discusses, researches, travels and uncovers truths behind the otherwise little-known world of agribusiness and how it relates to the food on our plate.

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