Here are the rest of the discussion questions for the second section, Pastoral - Grass (chapters 11 through 14). The following includes a question that touches on at least one point in each of the chapters.
Chapter 11: The Animals - Practicing Complexity I found the concept of "stacking", growing or producing more than one crop or animal at a time, to be quite an interesting one. For example, raising rabbits and chickens in the same living space - the chickens peck through the rabbit droppings, turning over the mess and greatly reducing the urine smell. This type of growing creates a balance, providing no need for antibiotics, chemicals or medications. It allows the grower to watch the animals for signs of illness instead of suppressing disease prophylactically.
I thought that trying to find a grower who practices rotational grazing would be difficult enough, but trying to find out which growers practice "stacking" has got to be next to impossible. Do you think that consumers should have more information about how their food is grown in addition to the standard "organic" labelling? Or do you think people even care about these extra tidbits of information regarding how their food is grown?
Chapter 12: Slaughter - In a Glass Abattoir I love the Emerson quote: "You have just dined and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." I've always been amazed at how the average consumer expect their meats to be unidentifiable, shrink-wrapped, pristine-looking cuts of meat. I think that truly exposing people to what goes on in order to deliver those shimmering chicken breasts to your grocer would make people think a little more about how their food is raised and processed. Did reading the explicit description of chicken dispatching and processing have an influence on you? Was this at all a shock to the system?
Chapter 13: The Market - Greetings from the Non-Barcode People One argument people keep making against organics is that it is "elitist" and that the average American can't afford organic produce and other products. I think the fact that Americans spend 1/10 of their income on food versus 1/5 during the 1950s is truly enlightening (of course, Pollan doesn't bring up the increased cost of housing, but I'll let that slide). It seems that people have the money to scrape together for their cell phones, high speed Internet, giant TVs and DirecTV/cable, but not on food raised sustainably. People are making a choice and they are choosing other pleasures over organics. How does looking at the matter in this light affect your thinking of the "organics is for the elite"?
Chapter 14: The Meal - Grass-Fed I love the whole idea of not only eating local, organic and sustainable but also eating seasonally. Because if you are eating local, organic and sustainable, it really comes down to seasonality. Am I the only one clueless to the fact that meats are seasonal? That one should really be eating beef and pork in the fall or winter and that chickens are a summer delicacy? It makes sense that foods grown according to the seasons and true to their nature (e.g. pasture-raised) will have a higher nutritional value. This shows up in the quality and taste in the food. What experience do you have in the difference in taste, enjoyment and quality when eating something produced seasonally?
As per the usual, correct me if I'm wrong on anything here...