In the essay, “What’s Eating America,” Michael Pollan explains the double edge blade of what farming industry is in America. In the beginning of the essay, he makes the case about how important and dependent Americans are on the crop corn. He goes off to list the vast amount of products and uses the simple crop does for everyone. Even I was surprised by the application that corn provides. However, It seems that was just the beginning, after reading more I discovered this essay to be way more frightening than the essay, “ The Ends of The World as We Know Them.”
Michael switches gears, when he explains that all of life is taking energy from plants or from plant eaters. The hard earned energy converters, working tirelessly everyday to produce food and promote growth for their goal of survival on this planet. It all comes to an end when someone or something consumes them for the caloric value that they hold. What is compelling about this outlook is that Michael makes the case that humanity could never grow past a limit due to not enough nitrogen in the ground. Nitrogen being essential for all life on the planet is extremely limited through out the world.
After exploring how ironically, humans through the development of trying to kill one another to secure political geographic lines, resources and other causes, ended up using all the left ammonium nitrate as a way to artificially introduce nitrogen into the farming industry. This explodes the power behind the U.S. for its capability to grow food. It is interesting to read “The End of The world as We Know Them,” as seeing one of the big down turns for all civilization is of course lack of food. This can be applied as a warning to some of the biggest societies in today. This artificial way of introducing a key ingredient in our soil is a great way of breaking that cycle of limited food……right?
No, my hope of having a heart warming essay of informative, and reinforcing that American health and society on a whole is safe came to end as Polland explained the perils behind using the Haber-Bosch methods and the impact it has on the environment. As also in explained in “The End of The World as We Know Them,” failing to keep an eye and maintain the environment was a huge key factor in most of the downfall of those societies. So when Pollan explained that the artificial way of adding nitrogen, has the potential threat of ruining our seafood supply and when the nitrate evaporates into the air and becomes acid rain, it effects people and animals who drink it, I flipped out. I don't know about you but I love eating sushi….and I really love drinking good healthy water with delicious sushi.
All this fear and warning signs of course is triggering my guilt to start buying local homegrown food or organic food. More expensive, but healthier food is a small price to pay for the greater good of humanity right? I hope so, but it seems contradicting as the end of the essay states that organic farms and the organic market is still able to compete and produce the goods regardless of using the old fashioned way. As stated earlier that without having the Haber-Bosch way of growing food, we wouldn't have as many people in the world, due to the population restraints of having less food. So is going back to the old way the answer? I wish I had that answer, perhaps from the bombs going off in Afghanistan, and other places around the world, and through the military industrialization we, as a human race, can ironically find the answer to this problem.